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Metro looking to spend $138M on 95 new electric buses

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The agency wants to operate a zero emission fleet by 2030

Orange Line bus
Metro hopes to ensure all buses serving the Orange Line are electric by 2020.
EMBARQ Brasil | creative commons

Two of Metro's most ridden bus routes, the Orange and Silver lines, could soon be served by quieter, eco-friendly electric buses. On Tuesday, the agency's board of directors will vote on a plan to spend a combined $138 million on 95 new buses for the two lines, along with the equipment to keep them running.

The investment is meant to help the agency achieve an ambitious goal of converting its entire fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030. To do that, the agency will need to replace about 200 buses per year between now and then, according to a recent report from Metro.

The first step will be substituting all buses serving the Orange and Silver lines. The former route, which travels between Chatsworth and North Hollywood, is expected to be served entirely by electric buses by 2020. The latter, which runs between San Pedro and Downtown LA, should be all-electric by the following year.

The two lines travel in dedicated bus lanes, allowing for faster and more reliable service, while also placing less strain on the buses themselves. As the LA Times reports, some Metro officials have expressed doubts that current electric vehicle technology is advanced enough to ensure consistent service on more demanding routes.

Metro requirements stipulate that new buses must be able to hit a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour, sustain a 10 percent grade, and travel at least 250 miles at a time.

"One of my nightmare scenarios is if we had to put chargers all across L.A. County," Metro Director of Vehicle Technology John Drayton tells the Times.

But Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has championed the move to an all-electric fleet says the changes will be worth it. Though the Times reports that the new vehicles will cost around $200,000 more than a standard bus, Garcetti argues in a letter to Metro CEO Phil Washington that the buses will save the agency money on refueling costs and could be cheaper in the long-run. Additionally, the buses will "reduce noise pollution" and "improve public health," Garcetti says.