Nov 18, 2022 - News

Des Moines' electric buses are off the road for fixes

A photo of a DART bus.

Photo courtesy of DART

DART's seven electric buses have been pulled off the road due to maintenance issues, Erin Hockman, a spokesperson for the public transit authority told Axios Thursday.

  • Some of the problems are battery related.

Driving the news: The buses are part of a pilot program. Mechanical issues will be factored in evaluating the future of zero-emission vehicles in the fleet.

State of play: The buses are approaching two years in service.

  • DART is working with the manufacturer to fix problems before some warranties expire.
  • The electric buses were taken out of service about three weeks ago and transit officials are unsure when they will return.

By the numbers: The vehicles were purchased using a nearly $1.5 million federal grant.

  • They can travel about 150 miles between charges.
  • Each diesel bus replaced by electric reduces CO2 emissions by 230,000 pounds a year, according to DART.

What they're saying: Metro transit officials are reviewing other options, like hydrogen fuel cell technology, as a possibility for another zero-emission pilot program, Hockman said.

  • DART commissioners will review options over the next year.

The big picture: Cities across the world are assessing the value of zero-emission technology in mass transit.

  • Electric buses in Santiago, Chile, produced overall positive outcomes with pollution reduction and public perception but their long-term financial costs or savings were unclear, one study published in 2020 concluded.
  • A report last year about a pilot project in Washington, D.C. determined that electric buses met most goals but are also more expensive to operate because they cost more to buy.

Yes, but: Purchase prices are expected to decrease as the technology advances, the D.C. study noted.

⚡️ The bottom line: The future of electric buses is still charging.


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