January 12th, 2021 by Johnna Crider
The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, lovingly known as MARTA for those of us who live or have lived (in my case) in the Metro Atlanta area, has made a purchase and a statement in favor of clean energy. MARTA ordered six Xcelsior CHARGE™ zero-emission, battery-electric 40-foot, heavy-duty transit buses from New Flyer.
This is MARTA’s first electric bus purchase from New Flyer. It joins over 40 North American companies with active zer0-emission bus programs supported by New Flyer. It looks like Georgia is making all kinds of progress these days.
With federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Low or No Emission (Low-No) Grant program, MARTA was able to be “smarta” by investing in its pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (That’s a reference to an old slogan that was often announced on the trains, buses, and transit systems through their PA: “MARTA is Smarta,” or “It’s Smarta with MARTA.”)
MARTA has been focusing on transitioning to lower-emissions propulsion since 1996 when it first started using compressed natural gas buses from New Flyer. Now it’s upping its game and adding much cleaner battery-electric buses to its fleet.
Chris Stoddart, President at New Flyer America, spoke about this new milestone with MARTA. “Since 1990, New Flyer has supported MARTA with progressive innovation over the 1,200 buses we delivered, and today, we achieve a new milestone supporting MARTA’s transition to zero-emission,” he said. “As more cities demand reduced GHG emissions and greater sustainability, New Flyer is meeting that need with zero-emission buses, technology, and infrastructure – as a manufacturer offering comprehensive mobility solutions and workforce development at scale. With our battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE™ buses, MARTA joins leading agencies across the continent who have begun the transition to sustainable mobility.”
The New Buses
These new buses are designed on the Xcelsior platform and offer zero-emission mobility. Its battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE buses come in 35, 50, and 60-foot lengths. The platform also has a fuel cell-electric version called Xcelsior CHARGE H2 with 40 or 60-foot lengths.
My Background with MARTA
When I first moved from Shreveport, LA, to Atlanta in 2005, I was in awe of MARTA. Growing up with no car, we were dependent on the bus system and Shreveport’s buses stopped running in the early afternoon/evening depending on what day it was. Imagine working the late shift and not being able to get home or having to walk. I was used to that. Moving to Atlanta where there were not only buses but trains was an incredibly new experience for me, a great relief.
While living in Atlanta, MARTA was always promoting the idea that it was better for the environment to use buses and trains than it was to commute by car. They have several park & rides to help commuters use buses and trains. So, it’s not surprising that MARTA is adding battery-electric buses to its fleet.
Buses, especially those using any type of fossil fuels for power, contribute a lot to air pollution. While they are often considered to be greener, they frequently burn dirty diesel fuel, and even CNG bus emits a lot of pollution. In fact, if the bus doesn’t have decent capacity (ridership), it is producing more emissions than if each of the people on board was driving a gasmobile themselves.
Air pollution has taken countless lives and has recently made headlines for being the cause of death of a 9-year-old who had asthma. Air pollution affects all of the earth’s inhabitants — big and small. It’s even killing honeybees in India, according to a 3-year study that found out just mildly dirty air could kill 80% of giant Asian honeybees.
Although buses often help individuals reduce their own carbon footprint by allowing them to use a better way of transportation than their own cars, battery-electric buses will reduce those emissions and footprints even further. Seeing more transit systems adopting EVs in their fleets is a great thing. Perhaps one day in the not so distant future, all buses will be electric.
For more electric bus stories from the past month alone, here’s a fun list:
- The Million-Mile Zero Emissions Club
- Heavy-Duty Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Pilot Launched By New Flyer & Li-Cycle
- Bogota Gets 470 New Electric Buses, Berlin Gets 90
- 246 Electric Buses Hit The Streets In The Netherlands
- NY Governor Cuomo Unleashes New Electric Bus Initiatives
- Blue Bird Sells Its 300th Electric School Bus, & 1st In Texas
- Proterra Opens Next-Gen EV Battery Facility in Los Angeles, California
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