Marin Transit experiments with zero-emission buses

Marin Transit has embarked on a pilot project to test the technology of two 35-foot, zero-emission electric buses.

The $1.6 million pilot project will evaluate the performance, reliability, cost and sustainability of the buses on various routes throughout Marin County.

The project is financed with a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, local Measure A transportation sales tax revenue for capital projects and a Bay Area Air Quality Management District grant for heavy duty zero-emission vehicles.

A $111,000-per-vehicle voucher to the manufacturer from the California Air Resources Board will reduce Marin Transit’s vehicle purchase price.

Marin Transit purchased its first diesel electric hybrid buses in 2010, and currently operates 18 hybrid buses. Ten more hybrid buses will be delivered in 2017.

Advances in electric battery vehicle technologies and government incentives have led to costs that are comparable to hybrid buses and driving ranges suitable to a subset of local bus routes, Marin Transit general manager Nancy Whelan said.

The new buses will have a 12-year battery and slow charge technology, and they are expected to be delivered within six to 10 months.

Typically the bus operates on one battery charge per day, and they can be charged at night rather than requiring fast charge equipment at transit centers along routes, Whelan said.