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It's Electric: LA First Major US City to Pledge Full Bus Fleet Conversion


#1

It's Electric: LA First Major US City to Pledge Full Bus Fleet Conversion

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Los Angeles became the first major U.S. city to commit to fully transitioning its public buses to electric on Thursday, when the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to transition its fleet of more than 2,200 buses by 2030.

"This decision also signals to transit agencies around the country that, even as the administration in D.C. puts the brakes on progress fighting climate change, Los Angeles area leaders are accelerating to a clean energy future."
—Los Angeles County Electric Bus Coalition


#2

LADWP (los angeles department of water and power) generates somewhere between 40% and 52% of its power from coal (it’s hard to find accurate numbers). While they are committed to eliminating coal from their generation sources by 2025, moving to electric may or may not be cleaner, especially when the carbon load of building the new buses is considered.


#3

I wish someone would invent a better battery, everything else has moved ahead but batteries are stuck in 1962.


#4

Huh? These lithium-ion electric buses can go 350 miles - enough for a shift on the longest city routes - on a single charge. The batteries available in 1962 (lead acid) could never do that.


#5

When the efficiency of electric systems are included, it is still cleaner than diesel fuel.

And I have trouble believing that any place in California gets 40% of its electricity from coal. It’s declined to less than that even here in Pennsylvania.


#6

Note to the author - Buses run on diesel fuel, not gas (i.e. gasoline)…


#7

China’s trains are also electric, and that is 100%, I believe, and that happened decades ago. They don’t use batteries,but instead connect to the grid. Many cities use electric buses, but the one I’m in uses natural gas, which is common in cars, too, in some places, burns clean, and is much cheaper than gasoline. I was in the seat once in a taxi and asked where the natural gas tank was. It was under the passenger seat.Passengers get out during fueling.


#8

I was being a little bombastic, but the fact remains that lithium ion batteries were perfected in the mid 1980’s and are little changed yet. time for another quantum leap in battery technology.


#9

Lest we forget, LA (and many other cities) used to have an extensive electric streetcar system, which a certain major US auto manufacturer conspired to kill off so they could sell more cars & diesel buses. They shamelessly did it for decades all over the country. Look it up. This is a good step forward to where LA was back in the 1920s.


#10

Yes, electric trolley-buses, streetcars, and electric trains go back 130 years (all the Amtrak NE corridor trains are electric). But battery-electric buses are new and open up all routes to clean quiet electric service without those ugly overhead wires. You still only see them mostly only in smaller cities like cities like Nashville which get federal funds that bigger cities don’t get, and are not stuck with a big garages that support only diesel or maybe CNG buses and long-term contracts for diesel equipment and fuel. My city is proposing battery electric buses for a new dedicated busway, but nowhere else yet.


#11

I am a tinkerer and home-builder of electric motor scooters and am leasing a Smart electric car. Lithium-ion batteries have improved vastly over the past 10 years - in cycle life, calendar life, safety and cost. A properly managed modern lithium battery pack has pretty much indefinite life. 6 year old Teslas (up to 330 mile range) with 150k miles have shown only a few percent capacity loss. Chevy Volts (which manage the packs very conservatively - using only the middle 60-70% of the pack capacity) are showing zero capacity loss.

In terms of energy density, there are probably not going to be any more big breaktroughs - the laws of physics and chemistry dictate that - no “Moore’s Law” for batteries - but reliability should continue to get better and cost should continue to go down.


#12

There’s a lot people working on it and even Toyota is working a solid state battery.


#13

I imagine that the weight of electric batteries is much less than the weight of an internal combustion apparatus. Thus , less work required overall. China smaller city streets are filled with electric devices, mostly scooters and tiny cars.The problem is mainly that a tank of gas will take you a lot farther than the batteries. You see a lot of people walking their vehicles.


#14

Many tens of thousands of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) powered city transit busses are in use worldwide (China, Brazil, Taiwan, and Europe etc.), and have been for well over 20 years now. For obvious reasons they are very popular with pedestrians and cyclists.

At present all of LA’s transit busses are CNG powered.

So, gas does not necessarily mean gasoline, it could also mean gas.


#15

Ok thanks. :slight_smile: I didn’t realize most of what you said.


#16

One complaint I must make is in regard to the type of bus being converted to battery power. The standard 40’ bus (pictured) gets about 4mpg. Conversions to hybrid drive get about 5mpg. Further conversion to plug-in hybrid achieve an effective 8mpg. Therefore, conversion to all-battery power only achieves a minimally efficient use of fuel/energy.

We need new paratransit van models; easy boarding ‘low-floor’ for seniors and disabled, low emission drivetrains (both hybrid and all battery) for that reason as well as achieving the equivalent of 30mpg, roughly a tripling or quadrupling of fuel/energy economy. We must also note that the standard bus operates at less than 1/4 full most of the time, excluding rush hours when they are overwhelmed with passengers and standing room only, sure signs of ineffective system design and management using 1970’s bus drivetrain technology. To enable more people to use transit requires a doubling of convenient service frequency that justifies the increased cost with reductions in the cost of fuel/energy.

GM and Ford owe the American public new paratransit van models that could replace more than half of the standard bus fleet, but their leaders do not want mass transit taking the least larger share of the travel market. There’s too much money in selling cars and they’d rather everyone not learn why their self-driving car technology is a fraud and a ruse.


#17

One complaint I must make is in regard to the type of bus being converted to battery power. The standard 40’ bus (pictured) gets about 4mpg. Conversions to hybrid drive get about 5mpg. Further conversion to plug-in hybrid achieve an effective 8mpg. Therefore, conversion to all-battery power only achieves a minimally efficient use of fuel/energy.

For certain, we need new paratransit van models; easy boarding ‘low-floor’ for seniors and disabled, low emission drivetrains (both hybrid and all battery) for that reason as well as achieving the equivalent of 30mpg, roughly a tripling or quadrupling of fuel/energy economy. We must also note that the standard bus operates at less than 1/4 full most of the time, excluding rush hours when they are often standing room only, sure signs of ineffective system design and management using 1970’s bus drivetrain technology. To enable more people to use transit requires a doubling of convenient service frequency and justifies the increased cost with reductions in the cost of fuel/energy.

GM and Ford owe the American public new paratransit van models that could replace more than half of the standard bus fleet, but their leaders do not want mass transit taking the least larger share of the travel market. There’s too much money in selling cars and they’d rather everyone not learn why their self-driving car technology is a fraud and a ruse.


#18

Actually, the batteries are heavier and bulkier than an IC engine and gas tank. The Tesla Model S, is a big car and weighs about 1000 lbs heavier than a comparable full-sized sedan. Chevy did an impressive job squeezing enough the batteries to get 230 miles of range in the compact Chevy Bolt - but it will be difficult to get enough batteries in a subcompact to get that kind of range.


#19

A change from 4 mpg to 8 mpg equivalent is an improvement of 100 percent! Does it sound more impressive if you express it as 200 passenger-miles to the gallon versus 400 passenger miles to the gallon?


#20

Awesome info. and thanks for the lesson. We tend to circulate around the same topics here and it’s always nice to learn something new.