7 things to know about Rochester’s first electric buses – Post Bulletin


ROCHESTER — A pair of electric buses are set to be the first on the Rochester transit routes Monday.

“This has been a long process and has taken a ton of people to make it happen,” Rochester Public Works Director Wendy Turri said during a celebration to launch the new buses.

The two 60-foot buses will run between the city’s IBM and Graham Park park-and-ride lots, with stops downtown.

By serving Rochester Public Transit’s busiest commuter route, officials say the new buses are expected to have an immediate impact by increasing capacity and reducing fuel costs and vehicle emissions.

Here are a few things to know about the buses:

1. Each bus should be able to make more than 20 trips between the IBM campus and Graham Park without a recharge.

The buses are expected to have a 152-mile range per charge, with the 525 kwh batteries being able to be fully charged within four hours.

“They should be able to run a full day without any extra charging,” RPT Transit Operations Specialist Bradley Bobbitt said.

As backup, he said the buses will have 60 to 90 minutes between morning and afternoon commuter cycles to be charged outside peak energy periods, but most of the charging will be done at night, when rates are lower.

2. Diesel buses will remain on the route.

Since the route serving the two park-and-ride lots calls for buses to arrive every 10 minutes during peak periods, Rochester Public Transit will also have up to three older diesel buses serving the lots during those times.

Bobbitt said at least 40% of the trips are expected to be served by the electric buses, which is expected to cut the city’s fuel cost by $11,000.

He said the cost of charging the buses has yet to be determined, but the switch will create a savings for the city.

3. Two more electric buses are expected next year.

Mayor Kim Norton said she’s already signed a contract for the purchase of two new buses, but the exact date of delivery is uncertain.

Bobbitt said he anticipates they will be on the road in the first half of next year, with plans to add them to the commuter route served by the first buses.

He said ridership will continue to be monitored to see where the larger buses provide the greatest efficiency.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton followed by Public Works Director Wendy Turri board an electric bus for a ride during a ribbon-cutting event for Rochester Public Transit’s two new electric buses Friday, July 8, 2022, at the Public Works and Transit Operations Center in Rochester. RPT announced that the two new buses will be put into service on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

4. Bigger buses mean more potential passengers.

The city’s typical bus is 40 feet long. With an extra 20 feet on the buses, potential capacity is approximately 120 passengers, compared to the 70 or so that can be squeezed into the city’s current buses.

Bobbitt said that makes the buses an ideal option for serving the busiest routes.

5. The rear of the bus articulates.

The added length is created by an extension on what would be a shorter bus

Akin to a trailer with its own powered wheels, the added section is able to move slightly to enable the bus to more efficiently maneuver on city streets.

6. Training and infrastructure requirements delayed launch.

The buses arrived in Rochester in March with the anticipation that they’d be taking passengers in May.

Bobbitt said limited access to supplies related to infrastructure infrastructure caused some delay.

Ribbon Cutting for Rochester Public Transit's New Electric Buses

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton takes part in a ribbon-cutting event for Rochester Public Transit’s two new electric buses Friday, July 8, 2022, at the Public Works and Transit Operations Center in Rochester. RPT announced that the two new buses will be put into service on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Additionally, he said trainers for the bus company, New Flyer of St. Cloud, have been in high demand.

While local supervisors have been trained to train drivers, he said mechanics required 66 hours of specialized training related to servicing the new buses.

7. Federal funds covered most of the cost.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program.

The grant covered 63% of the $3.6 million project cost, with about $1.3 million for each of the two buses and $1 million for the charging equipment and infrastructure.

Ribbon Cutting for Rochester Public Transit's New Electric Buses

Rochester City Administrator Alison Zelms speaks during a ribbon-cutting event for Rochester Public Transit’s two new electric buses Friday, July 8, 2022, at the Public Works and Transit Operations Center in Rochester. RPT announced that the two new buses will be put into service on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Ribbon Cutting for Rochester Public Transit's New Electric Buses

Guests board an electric bus during a ribbon-cutting event for Rochester Public Transit’s two new electric buses Friday, July 8, 2022, at the Public Works and Transit Operations Center in Rochester. RPT announced that the two new buses will be put into service on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

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