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Battery-Operated Buses to be Tested by the MBTA Next Month

Battery-Operated Buses to be Tested by the MBTA Next Month

Boston, MA– The MBTA has been making adjustments to their system over the past few years, and some recent changes focus on reducing pollution in and around the city of Boston. To that end, they’ve decided to test out battery-powered buses next month. The MBTA aims to reduce the pollution from diesel buses by trading them out for the battery-powered models. Steve Poftak, general manager of the MBTA, stated: “We decided we’re not going to purchase any more diesel buses,” as reported by WGBH.

Battery-powered buses will be used on the Silver Line between South Station and Logan airport at the start of the trial. Typically, these commutes are made by diesel-electric buses for half the trip and full diesel buses for the rest of the trip. Having battery buses take the place of these two types of buses will not only reduce pollution rates, but it will also eliminate the switchover from one bus to another. All the battery-operated buses have to do now is prove to Boston that they’ll work for long periods.

Initial testing of the battery-operated buses has been conducted in Minnesota. The city of Duluth, which is currently testing seven of these buses, was chosen as a test site because of their extreme cold climate, which can affect the life of the battery. Just like with a car or a flashlight, the length of time that the battery stays charged will vary depending on how hot or how cold the temperature is surrounding it. The battery buses have been operating in the city of Duluth at 15-degree temperatures, lasting approximately six hours in these conditions. As more technological advances become available, the battery duration may increase.

Duluth was also selected as the testing site for battery-operated buses because of its hilly topography. If battery-operated buses can make it around Duluth, they should be able to drive up and down any elevated hills in Boston without rolling back into other cars.

Boston’s goal is to put approximately 500 diesel buses out of commission, replacing them with these battery-operated buses once they’ve been proven to work.

Some bus riders have commented on the new bus system. Kersten Rapp, a Cambridge commuter, stated, “I think the thing that matters most to me would be pollution. Pollution and efficiency.” I think everyone hopes for the same thing.

Image via Wikimedia user Adam E. Moreira