The Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK) is set to officially debut its Proterra battery-electric bus fleet at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, with demo rides also available to the public.
The three 40–foot buses will help achieve MetroLINK’s continuing vision in developing a sustainable Quad Cities through voluntary efforts in reducing vehicle emissions, building efficient and sustainable infrastructure, and communicating transit’s environmental benefits to the community. The battery-electric bus project was supported primarily with funds provided through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s award of a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Clean Fuels grant and an additional FTA 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities grant.
“The Illinois Department of Transportation is proud to work with our partners at MetroLINK in upgrading its fleet,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said. “These buses will improve the quality of life for area residents in so many ways. By working with our federal and local partners, we are reducing operating costs and helping the environment by cutting down on harmful emissions, all while providing riders with a safer, more pleasurable experience.”
In 2002 MetroLINK began a clean air initiative with the introduction of clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. With 80% of the fleet currently running on CNG, the introduction of battery-electric buses is the next step in environmentally sustainable fleet technology. In addition to zero emissions, each battery-electric bus results in additional operational cost savings over the lifetime of the bus.
Quieter than any other transit bus on the market, the electric buses offer a state-of-the-art wheelchair securement system manufactured by Q'Straint; nine Apollo security cameras, including all new 4K technology and a 360 degree camera system; and an electronic infotainment system manufactured by Luminator. Fueled with electricity provided by MidAmerican Energy, the buses have 30% fewer parts, with no liquid fuel or oil changes, thus reducing maintenance labor costs.
The public debut of the battery-electric buses comes on the heels of a recent award of $3.165 million in FTA 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities funds to MetroLINK for the purchase of five additional Proterra battery-electric buses and charging equipment. With this support, the agency will be able to purchase the next round of buses and have them in place by 2019.