Miami-Dade is close to ordering its first fleet of electric buses.
The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, which manages the countywide “half-penny” transit tax, last week OK’d spending $72.2 million to buy up to 75 e-buses and charging systems for the county’s three bus maintenance depots.
Transportation Director Alice Bravo told Miami Today her department plans to order a comparatively conservative 33 buses for about $32 million – $898,000 per bus plus training, maintenance and equipment costs.
Some $4 million in federal funds and “possibly more [from] this year’s allocation” will help pay the cost, she said.
If county commissioners approve, the contract will go to Proterra Inc., a Burlington, CA-based electric bus maker staffed by several former Tesla employees, including CEO Ryan Popple.
Proterra has sold more than 700 e-buses to 90 cities across 41 states and Canadian provinces, including Tallahassee, New York, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Honolulu and Washington, the firm’s website says.
Miami-Dade solicited proposals Oct. 1, 2016. Proterra, New Flyer of America and BYD Motors responded.
Negotiations with Proterra, which won on “evaluation scores [and] ranking,” a memo from retired Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak said, began March 8, 2018.
“Every zero-emission bus [can] eliminate 1,690 tons of carbon dioxide over its 12-year lifespan,” she wrote. “This is equivalent to taking 27 cars off the road.”
They’re also more efficient than any bus the county now has: a Tampa transit study determined e-buses can travel 17.48 miles per diesel gallon equivalent compared to 4.51 miles by compressed natural gas buses.
But despite a 32% leap in stateside purchases of e-buses in 2018, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, global adoption of the newer technology lags far behind China, whose staggering 421,000 e-buses comprise 99% of the total.