MetroLINK is continuing to drive its clean air initiative forward with the launch of a new battery-electric bus fleet.
The three 40-foot buses will be make their debut at 2 p.m., Monday, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at SouthPark Mall, Moline. Hosted by the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, or MetroLINK, the event also will offer demonstration rides. It is open to the public.
"It’s an exciting time for us as we take this next step in environmentally friendly technology," said Jennifer Hirsch, MetroLINK's administration manager. "We want to continue to provide our riders and community with eco-friendly transit options, as well as the most modern experience."
Garrity said MetroLINK is the first public transit system in Illinois to introduce purpose built battery-electric buses.
The project was funded primarily by the Illinois Department of Transportation’s award of a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Clean Fuels grant and an FTA 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities grant.
The buses were manufactured by Proterra, the leading innovator in electric transportation.
“We’re excited to support MetroLINK as the agency redefines what it means to move the masses, solidifying its reputation as transit leader and speeding into a cleaner mobility future,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra.
In addition to zero emissions, each bus creates additional operational cost savings over the vehicle's lifetime. Fueled with electricity provided by MidAmerican Energy, they have 30 percent fewer parts with no liquid fuel or oil changes, thus reducing maintenance labor costs.
Kathryn Kunert, MidAmerican's vice president of economic connections and integration, said the project "is one more way we can partner with the communities we serve to support environmentally friendly practices."
MetroLINK began a clean air initiative in 2002 by introducing buses fueled by clean-burning compressed natural gas. Those buses now make up 80 percent of its fleet.
The battery-electric bus public debut comes on the heels of the FTA's recent award of $3.165 million in 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities funds to MetroLINK for five additional Proterra battery-electric buses and charging equipment. They will be in place by 2019.