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All-electric bus picking up passengers in Southern California

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September 1, 2010

The EcoRide BE-35 all-electric bus

The EcoRide BE-35 all-electric bus

Even in the form of diesel-powered buses, mass transit is a much more environmentally friendly way to get people around than individual cars. All- electric buses, however, take the eco-credentials of mass transit to the next level and from next week, commuters in the San Gabriel/Pamona area of Los Angeles County can do their bit for the environment by traveling on three Proterra EcoRide BE35 all-electric buses purchased by Foothill Transit.

Proterra unveiled its HFC35 composite body, hybrid-electric bus prototype back in 2008, which evolved to become a 35-foot (10m) bus capable of carrying 37 passengers that was described as the world’s first plug-in fuel cell hybrid transit bus. Now the company has produced the all-electric EcoRide BE-35, which is also 35 feet long, but has room for 68 passengers and is able to fast charge in under 10 minutes.

Public transportation company, Foothill Transit, has purchased three of the buses and two charging stations from Proterra. The buses have 72 kW-h lithium-ion battery packs that are just 50 percent larger than the 53 kW-h battery packs found in the Tesla Roadster and provide the buses with three hours of running time or a range of 30 miles (48km). They come in 550lb (249kg), 18 kW-h modular units supplied by Altairnano.

The buses will be deployed on Foothill Transit’s Line 291, which travels between La Verne and Pomona, and they will recharge about every 30 miles at the Pomona Transit Center at a drive-in docking station.

The buses will also soon be hitting the streets in San Antonio, but those will have 54 kW-h battery packs that will need to be charged more frequently. While the Foothill buses are likely to spend 10 minutes every hour charging and complete several laps of their route, the San Antonio buses may top up their charge on nearly every lap.

Foothill Transit is paying Proterra US$5.6 million for the three EcoRide BE-35 buses and two chargers but, if all goes well, hopes to expand its fleet to 12 buses. And they’re likely to attract other buyers. By 2012, 15 percent of the buses purchased by municipal agencies in California will have to be zero-emission vehicles.

Via Greentech Media

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
8 Comments

If they just added a fuel cell system, they could go a whole shift without refueling.

Lawrence Weisdorn
1st September, 2010 @ 07:27 am PDT

Yeah, but Fuel Cells have far more losses in both the hydrogen creation and use cycles. They also cost more.

William Volk
1st September, 2010 @ 08:28 am PDT

I know that conventional wisdom says....... Even in the form of diesel-powered buses, mass transit is a much more environmentally friendly way to get people around than individual cars.......... I would just like you to compare that throery with high mileage individual commuter cars and in the future with individual autonomous electric vehicles. I think you would be very surprised if you include all the numbers.

froginapot
1st September, 2010 @ 10:44 am PDT

Wow....30 miles on 4 batteries that weighs a collective 2200 pounds. Don't even want to guess as to the cost. This is absurd. I don't know how this is even newsworthy? If anything this is an abomination.

habakak
1st September, 2010 @ 11:31 am PDT

The Australians trialled Electric buses in the late 90s using Vanadium Redox Batteries.

I dont now if they are still being used. They ran all day for a cost around$20us.

Cheers John M

John M
1st September, 2010 @ 11:47 am PDT

Bus's are already scary to bike riders...they approach you silently and you don't know they're next to you until you hear the engine...which is in the back! So you hear the engine, look to the side to get a glimpse of a vehicle approaching you, and it's already there! This thing would scare the bejebus out of you!

Ed
1st September, 2010 @ 03:36 pm PDT

"Even in the form of diesel-powered buses, mass transit is a much more environmentally friendly way to get people around than individual cars." This has been refuted; except for large numbers during morning and evening commutes, urban transit buses run with 1-5 people aboard, while averaging less than 3 mpg; an efficient small car exceeds this passenger-mileage with a single occupant. Like the idea that brown eggs are somehow healthier, this just goes to show that some things that seem intuitive, are false.

Schmerdtz
1st September, 2010 @ 10:49 pm PDT

Well, I for one am totally impressed. While schmerdtz may be right somewhat, the fact is that there are a lot of buses running around producing a lot of pollution. These buses can be seen as sustainable if they use solar, water or wind produced power, unlike your efficient small car. This is a perfect use for the Altair batteries, fast charging, and long lasting. However, I prefer the same idea, but using a serial hybrid bus as the base. You can use much smaller battery packs than Proterra (about 35kWh), and just turn on the backup generator if you miss a charge. Fast charging is the ideal way to turn a smelly bus into a friendly, quiet transportation system. You can also put a nice bell sound to warn cyclists and pedestrians - just go to Europe and stand on a tram track for a while. Ding ding... more info: www.nanobus.org

Roger Bedell
2nd September, 2010 @ 05:03 am PDT
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