Service is anticipated to begin as early as this fall, according to MTS' news release.
Rapid 227 will provide a battery-electric operated Rapid service in San Diego’s South Bay, linking the Otay Mesa Transit Center to neighborhoods along the Imperial Beach shores. The future route will also connect riders with the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley at the Iris Avenue Transit Center.
“The beginning of the region’s first electric Rapid route is a huge leap forward towards a greener future, environmental justice, sustainability, and better air quality,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board chair. “When Iris Rapid is in full operation, MTS will have 25 electric buses operating in its fleet, with hundreds more on the way. This will be a great milestone to reach as we transition to an all-zero emissions bus fleet by 2040.”
Powering Rapid 227 are 12 60-foot battery-electric buses provided by New Flyer of America Inc. (New Flyer). New Flyer has supplied more than 600 buses to MTS in the past 30 years. The new battery-electric buses are currently in various stages of production and will soon begin arriving in San Diego.
“Our binational region will benefit greatly with the addition of Iris Rapid,” said Vivian Moreno, MTS Board member. “In 2021, 2.1 million pedestrians crossed the border northbound at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Thousands of those commuters use our bus system daily to get to jobs and education opportunities. Iris Rapid will reduce emissions, speed up trips, offer better amenities, and provide longer spans of service. This is the type of bus service that both South Bay and Baja residents deserve.”
The new electric buses serving Rapid 227 will be stationed out of the agency’s bus facility in Chula Vista. At this bus division, MTS is finalizing construction of a new $8.5 million overhead gantry charging system capable of charging 24 battery-electric buses at a time and will be expandable to add more charging capacity as MTS transitions to an all-electric fleet in the coming years.
The total cost of the Rapid 227 project is $37 million to purchase the 12 battery-electric buses and add the necessary infrastructure. Funding came from a mix of California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and Low Carbon Transit Operations Program grants, and MTS’s Capital Improvement Program.