Transit Agencies Boost Purchases of Electric Buses

Electric buses are proving to be a key  market for vehicle manufacturers, in the U.S. and abroad, as transit agencies look to reduce their carbon footprints.

Chinese EV manufacturer BYD is building up its U.S. business through electric buses, the Associated Press reports. Its Los Angeles-area factory will produce some 300 electric buses this year, which BYD will sell to transit agencies across the country.

The company won a big contract to sell electric buses to the Washington State Department of Transportation last year, and last month it delivered five electric buses to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which intends to buy 20 more BYD buses if it likes the first five, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nearby Long Beach Transit has ordered 10 buses from BYD and has an option on 50 more buses, according to the Times.

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BYD, a leader in the Chinese electric car marketplace, has also sold plug-in electric taxis in New York and Chicago. It may start selling electric cars in the U.S. around 2018, the AP reports.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s Low and No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program is awarding $22.5 million to seven mass-transit providers nationwide, including $2.5 million to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the Philly Voice reports. SEPTA will use the money to buy 25 zero-emission, all-electric buses from Burlingame, Calif.-based Proterra.

Proterra is getting other orders through that federal grant program, the company says: Seattle’s King County Metro Transit will use FTA funds for eight Proterra buses. And Foothill Transit in Los Angeles County will use FTA money to build electric charging facilities and otherwise support the agency’s ongoing electric bus program. Foothill Transit has 13 Proterra buses already on order.

Across the Pacific, several thousand new fast-charging electric buses will hit the streets of Beijing this year. The city’s Public Transport Group currently has 300 such vehicles and plans to buy 2,400 this year, CCTV America reports. That figure should surpass 10,000 by 2020, when more than half of all buses in Beijing will be electric.

Other recent news regarding sustainable transportation:

Hyperloop: A company working to develop the hyperloop — the supersonic transit system proposed by Elon Musk — made the first public test of a prototype in Nevada last week. The company also closed on an $80 million funding round.

GM & Lyft: General Motors and ride-hailing service Lyft plan to test a fleet of self-driving electric cars on public roads. GM invested $500 million in Lyft at the start of the year.

BMW: The automaker says it’s rolling out a new EV ride sharing program in cities across North America. The program, called ReachNow, is starting out in Seattle with a fleet of electric i3 cars as well as Mini Coopers and other BMWs. The company plans to expand the program to nine other cities.

LeEco: The Chinese tech giant, known for smartphones and TVs and for recently announcing a new self-driving smart car, is opening a US headquarters in Silicon Valley. The 80,000 square foot office in San Jose will accommodate up to 800 employees.

Hybrid ferry: A new low-emission car-and-passenger ferry that runs on a diesel-electric hybrid engine will begin plying the waters between Rostock, Germany and Gedser, Denmark. It’s the fifth such hybrid ferry put into service by the ferry company.


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