Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) board of directors approved the purchase of 36 new BYD Motors Inc. electric shuttles for the 16th Street MallRide, a free service used by tens of thousands of downtown commuters and visitors every day, RTD’s single busiest bus route.
The new mall shuttles are completely electric powered, so they will be highly energy-efficient and produce zero point-of-source emissions. Over a 12-year lifespan, the 45-foot buses will save nearly $100,000 in energy consumption per bus when compared to similar vehicles powered by other fuel sources. This will total millions of dollars saved fleetwide.
“The current shuttles have been in operation for over fourteen years and it is time to replace our aging fleet to continue providing high-quality service to our riders,” said RTD Interim GM/CEO Dave Genova. “The new shuttles will provide the most advanced and clean-energy technology to help the environment while meeting the unique needs of vehicle operation on the busy 16th Street Mall.”
Because the new shuttles will operate in a pedestrian environment, they will offer unique features setting them apart from other RTD vehicles. As with the existing mall shuttles, the operator cabin will be located on the right hand side of the new buses. Floors will be low and flat, and the vehicles will have as many as four wide doors for easy and quick boarding. In addition, air conditioning will provide passengers with a more comfortable ride on summer days.
The cost of RTD’s new MallRide fleet will not exceed $27.1 million, with BYD manufacturing the battery-powered vehicles in China and assemble them in California to meet safety standards and Buy America requirements.