SamTrans shifts toward electric buses, shops local

In an effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, the San Mateo County Transit District board of directors voted Thursday to replace 10 diesel buses with new battery electric buses.

They will replace the 2003 diesel buses, which are some of the oldest vehicles in the SamTrans fleet of 302 vehicles, according to SamTrans officials.

The board awarded a $9.2 million contract to Burlingame-based Proterra to build the new buses. The purchase is covered by a combination of federal, state, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and SamTrans funds.

The new 40-foot buses will operate throughout the SamTrans service area and carry up to 38 seated passengers with up to another 18 standing riders.

Like all SamTrans buses, they’ll have priority seating for seniors and riders with disabilities, as well as exterior bike racks that can accommodate up to three bikes.

Other features will include USB charging ports on all double seats, a lower floor design to allow for ramps rather than lifts and Q-Pod wheelchair restraint systems to secure wheelchair users.

The board also voted to furnish the SamTrans maintenance facilities with charging stations for the new electric buses.

The new buses are expected to begin service in early 2019.