DART is exploring adding all-electric buses to its fleet with the financial help of a Federal Transportation Administration grant.
The grant, called the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, is offering $24.9 million to deploy clean and energy-efficient vehicles to transit agencies across the United States.
Using money from the grant and other partners, DART hopes to acquire nine all-electric buses to be used on D-Link (Route 722) at an estimated cost of $13 million.
All-electric, zero emissions
The 35-foot Proterra EcoRide bus is the target vehicle for the grant application. It would become the second zero-emission vehicle in DART’s transit fleet — the first being the electric light rail.
The EcoRide has a range of 30 miles and can recharge from 10 percent to 95 percent capacity in 10 minutes or less.
One of the bus’s most notable features is the charging system. Each bus is equipped with a roof-mounted charging dock. Instead of having to be plugged in, the bus pulls into a stop where a stationary charger automatically docks to the roof and begins the rapid charge process.
Proterra’s fuel cell and all-electric buses are operational in more than 10 different cities across the U.S., including in Austin and San Antonio. One of the company’s most notable fans is car enthusiast and former TV host, Jay Leno. Leno featured the Proterra Ecoliner on the web series Jay Leno’s Garage in 2012.
D-Link’s 19.4-mile trip length and 9- to 18-minute time span between runs fits the range and charging capabilities of the EcoRide. The route’s centralized originating point of Convention Center Station would also serve as home for the on-route rapid charger.
DART Vice President of Maintenance Mike Hubbell says D-Link is perfectly suited for the vehicle selected and it paves the way for future projects DART is working on.
“It fits right in with one of our technologies,” he said. “It is the exact same technology we will be deploying with the streetcar.”
In the meantime, DART is evaluating a completed test run of the EcoRide, obtaining commitments from local partners and submitting the formal application for the grant. If all goes smoothly, electric buses could be roaming Dallas streets in 2015 or 2016.
“It’s not an emerging technology,” said Proterra founder Dale Hill. “It’s an established technology.”