Leaders from the German electric bus manufacturer Kiepe Electric visited Dayton ahead of the upcoming delivery of NexGen electric trolley buses to replace the agency’s fleet.
Representatives from the North American branch of Kiepe and leaders from the headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany, toured Dayton’s network of electric-trolley routes aboard the NexGen — a dual-mode electric bus RTA commissioned as a prototype in 2014 and is now working with Kiepe in purchasing an entire fleet.
Kiepe is in the production process to deliver a total of 41 dual-mode electric trolley NexGen buses to Dayton by the end of 2020. As part of that order, 12 to 17 of the NexGens should arrive in Dayton this year, with the first dual-mode electric trolley expected to hit the streets in June, said RTA Director, Maintenance, Daron Brown. The buses will replace RTA’s current electric trolley bus fleet, which is 20 years old.
RTA officials said the new trolleys will be more dependable, meaning a more reliable service for customers. The NexGen buses will be the ability to travel off wire for up to 15 miles using the built-in battery, which charges while the trolleys are traveling on RTA’s network of electric wire. Off-wire travel will allow NexGens to take alternate routes around construction, accidents or traffic-related situations by dropping their poles and operating in battery mode, something RTA’s current trolleys cannot do. The interior of the NexGen fleet will also feature RTA’s new composite seating, a new seat design that will allow for easier upkeep, resulting in a cleaner bus, Brown said.
Electricity first started powering public transit in the city in 1888, with streetcars then the main mode of transportation. Dayton’s rich history of electric trolley buses began with a fleet in 1932, when “new” technology of electric trolley buses replaced streetcars. In the decades since, Dayton’s continued to operate electric trolley buses, and RTA remains only one of five cities in the nation to do so. The RTA utilizes 124 miles of electric overhead wire infrastructure to power its seven trolley routes, which provide more than two million passenger trips a year. That number is expected grow as the new NexGen buses are received and placed into service.
These “green” electric vehicles both reduce RTA’s carbon footprint and save on fuel costs. Each NexGen electric trolley bus has up to a 20-year life expectancy, compared to a diesel bus’s 12-year lifespan.