The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has signed a contract with BYD Motors for up to 25 new all-electric buses, of a $30-million clean air bus technology pilot project. This is the first time Metro has purchased and placed into revenue service any all-electric buses and is giving the transit agency an opportunity to determine whether electric buses can meet LA's rigorous transit needs.

Metro is working with LA City, LA County and South Coast Air Quality Management District through its Advanced Transit Vehicle Consortium. Five low-floor, 40-foot electric buses are being purchased for testing and evaluation. If those work out, Metro may choose to purchase up to 20 additional buses. Metro is also soliciting bids to covert six of its existing hybrid buses to Super Low Emission Bus standards.

It may help that BYD has an assembly plant in LA County. The contract contains a stipulation that BYD implement a local jobs program. BYD will comply by performing final assembly of bus components at its Lancaster, CA, plant. Metro already operates the nation's largest compressed natural gas bus fleet, but this sets the transit agency on a new course for transitioning to even cleaner buses that will be assembled in the county, said Michael D. Antonovich, LA County supervisor and Metro board chair.

Metro's Super Low/Zero Emission Bus Program started in 2011 to meet future vehicle emission reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board. The program tests EV technologies to check for improved operating characteristics including more range, better integrated subsystems and lighter weight construction. The question will be whether these electric buses reduce operating, maintenance and life cycle costs compared to Metro's current fleet.

BYD says its electric buses can travel 155 miles between charges – and that's when they're full of passengers – thanks to the company's own iron phosphate rechargeable batteries. Neighboring municipality Long Beach has brought in 10 BYD electric buses, which sparked an attack by electric bus competitor Proterra. The city is deciding whether to stay with the BYD contract.
L.A. Metro to Purchase Its First Electric Buses for Los Angeles County Transit Riders

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors today approved a contract with BYD Motors for the manufacture and delivery of up to 25 new all-electric buses as part of a $30 million clean air bus technology pilot project.

This is the first time in Metro's history that all-electric, zero-emission transit buses will be purchased and placed into revenue service as the agency evaluates electric bus technologies and their applicability to meet L.A.'s rigorous transit needs.

Metro's Advanced Transit Vehicle Consortium (ATVC), a partnership with L.A. City, L.A. County and South Coast Air Quality Management District, will initially purchase five low-floor, 40-foot all-electric buses. After an initial period of testing and evaluation, Metro may then choose to purchase up to 20 additional buses. Metro will also initiate a new solicitation to convert six existing Metro gasoline electric hybrid buses to Super Low Emission Bus standards.

The BYD contract contains a local jobs component that stipulates that the firm implement a local jobs program. BYD will comply by performing final assembly of bus components at its new manufacturing facilities in L.A. County. A Lancaster, California plant, which opened in May, is the international firm's first manufacturing facility in the United States.

"Metro already operates the nation's largest compressed natural gas bus fleet, but this initiative sets Metro on a new course for transitioning to even cleaner electric buses that will be assembled right here in Los Angeles County at the BYD manufacturing plant in Lancaster," said Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair.

In 2011 Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa co-authored a motion with Metro board members and County Supervisors Don Knabe and Antonovich to jump-start Metro's Super Low/Zero Emission Bus Program to meet future vehicle emission reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board.

The program seeks to test rapidly evolving electric vehicle technologies that have enhanced operating characteristics including extended range, better integrated subsystems and lighter weight construction. Metro will evaluate whether the new all-electric buses can reduce operating and maintenance costs and lower life cycle costs compared with Metro's current fleet.

BYD's electric buses use the company's own iron phosphate rechargeable batteries which can reportedly travel 155 miles between charges with a full passenger load. The firm has manufacturered more than 1,000 electric buses in China and was rated highest in the proposal process for technical compliance, project management and past performance.

"In 2010, when BYD made Los Angeles its North American corporate headquarters it signaled L.A.'s emergence as a center for tomorrow's clean vehicle technologies," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "Through partnerships like this contract, BYD is helping Los Angeles continue to lead the way in developing clean, green transportation solutions, and keeping L.A. at the forefront of the cleantech revolution."

Metro anticipates receiving the new buses early next year. Following an initial evaluation and testing period, Metro plans to initiate new procurements for additional "next generation" zero-emission and super low emission buses based on technology developments anticipated within the next one to three years.

"BYD very much admires the forward-thinking vision of Metro and is thrilled about partnering with this great transit agency to deliver truly zero-direct-emissions buses while building up local California jobs to support these buses from our L.A. Headquarters or our bus assembly plant in Lancaster, California," said Stella Li, BYD Motors President.

The program is part of a larger effort to test clean air prototype buses prior to the next Metro replacement bus proceurement in 2016. Funding for the buses has been made available using Measure R funds dedicated for transit operations. Currently, Metro has a fleet of 2,238 clean air compressed natural gas buses operating on 183 bus routes throughout Los Angeles County.

For additional information on Metro transit services, please visit www.metro.net


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 6 Comments
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you can't win the contract, wave the bloody shirt. That's how Americans do business now-a-days, rather than ingenuity, efficiency, and innovation. How sad that America has stoop to this low level.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        What about a bloody shirt? I'm confused.
      Ziv
      • 1 Year Ago
      155 miles of AER is pretty impressive, if true. I would like to see an American firm get these contracts, but Proterra is offering just 30 (+) miles of AER, albeit with fast charging capability. I think the new natural gas busses are cheaper to buy and nearly as cheap to operate as an electric bus, but I have never seen an actual comparison of new diesel vs. hybrid vs. natural gas vs. electric bus. It would be kind of cool to see the costs as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        While I agree 30 miles of AER is ridiculously short, the Proterra vehicle does at least exist and its range can be verified. BYD's past history suggests that they may be overstating their performance. Either way, Proterra better look at some improved range if they want to win contracts. 30 mile vehicles are going to have trouble winning contracts in the presence of any decent competition.
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mass Transit, EV... Even Dan might agree...
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good range, smoggy city, too much traffic... Lots of win.