MetroLINK started to go green with its buses in 2002, when they moved to cleaner compressed natural gas buses.
Now the fleet is beginning to see another change.
“We wanted to continue down that path, being an eco-friendly transit system. We also have a lot of LEED infrastructure in place, and with the battery electric buses, it just reinforces our commitment to sustainability here in the Quad Cities,” Manage of Administration Jennifer Hirsch said.
Every year, MetroLINK provides about 3.5 million rides, helping people in the Quad Cities, connect to work, commerce and leisure, but starting the week of April 16, the wheels on those buses will be rolling out something new.
Anthony Rodriguez said, “I think we all need the bus.”
Anthony Rodriguez hops onto a MetroLINK most every day.
Rodriguez said, “Basically the only means of transportation if you don’t have a car, so we’re all going to need it. We all use it from time to time.”
While he’s come used to waiting for buses powered by fuel, MetroLINK will be offering an alternative planned to begin April 17 on the Route 20, running between Centre Station and the Quad Cities International Airport.
Hirsch said, “The next era of eco-friendly technology with the introduction of the battery-electric buses.”
The three Proterra fully electric, zero emission buses arrived about a month ago, and since, MetroLINK staff have been getting acquainted with the new technology.
Manage of Administration Jennifer Hirsch said they’re the first public transit system in Illinois to have buses of this kind.
“Not everyday, you have smaller transit agencies taking on these types of projects and it’s something we’re going to continue to do,” said Hirsch.
MetroLINK received a mix of state and federal transportation funding to purchase the buses, each with the charging station running about $750,000.
But they also expect to be saving money, with 30 percent fewer parts and no oil change required decreasing labor costs and the biggest most likely seen in their fuel bill.
Hirsch said, “Overall, I think it will result in about $200,000 to $300,000 savings over the lifetime of the bus, so that’s huge for us.”
Inside, it includes upgraded security cameras and an automated wheelchair securement system. New to these buses will also be a visual information system, but one of the most noticeable features will be in what people hear or don’t.
Hirsch said, “It’s quiet. It’s like a giant gold cart, you can hear nothing.”
Four batteries underneath the bus power everything on board and can power it on the road for about 10 hours before needing to be charged.
That’s a process only taking a few hours.
MetroLINK will officially unveil the buses on Monday, April 16 at SouthPark Mall for a ribbon cutting event starting at 2 p.m.
Earlier this month, they also learned they received more than $3 million in federal funding to help purchase five additional electric buses that will come in 2019.
The buses will be powered through a partnership with MidAmerican Energy.