DART Wants to Buy Some Electric Buses

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for ProterraBus.jpg
SanJoaquinRTD
The Proterra EcoRide BE35. The weird thing on the back is the charger.
When DART updated nearly half of its bus fleet in 2012 and 2013, it opted for vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas. But fossil fuels are so 20th century, hence the transit agency's just-announced plans to add all-electric buses.

DART isn't about to electrify its entire fleet. The plan right now is limited to the replacement of the pink-and-yellow CNG buses currently running the D-Link shuttle route through Oak Cliff and downtown with Proterra EcoRides.

See also: Meet Dallas' New Oak Cliff Streetcars

These nine vehicles, along with quick-charge stations (10-minute recharge), will cost around $13 million, which DART hopes to partially offset with a Federal Transit Administration grant. The rest would come from DART and some combination of funding partners like the city of Dallas, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the NTTA, and others.

A model of the bus, which is in use in San Antonio (Austin has the fuel-cell model) and a half dozen other cities, will be on display to the media outside the DART headquarters from 3 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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57 comments
mengelman2
mengelman2

Rare earth magnets are used in the motors that propel these electric vehicles. Also in the generators in . Look up the pollution caused by mining these things.

There is no clean energy. 


mengelman2
mengelman2

There is no clean energy. A lot of our power plants are powered by naturan gas and coal. Windmills are killing birds and bats and the chemicals to build the magnets and solar cells are quite poisonous. 

rusknative
rusknative

natural gas does not have "summer brown out" electricity issues in the hot high demand Dallas climate.  Buses or Air Conditioning.....let me see...which should we HAVE.   natural gas stores well for future use...not so much so with electricity.


Dart....dumb asses running transportation

lecterman
lecterman

DART will certainly mismanage this electric bus(t)

mengelman2
mengelman2

Whats wrong with nat gas. Burns clean we have it in abundance and it helps the Texas economy.


bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I prefer the fuel-cell model.  The recharge models use grid power - and that comes from unrenewable resources.  Fuel Cells don't have that short-coming.


WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

This is kind of a cool idea but we just had a power alert due to the cold weather.   Do they want to add more stuff that depends on the grid?  Granted in the grand scheme of things this is small potatoes but is Dallas at this point really the local for this

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Totally cool idea.  I may be betraying my prehistoric nature here, but I still remember Dallas's old electric trams during the early Sixties.  All the big streets downtown were lined with elevated electrical tracks and the buses rode the lightning--something way ahead of its time--at least until, in typical Dallas-gone-reactionary fashion, Dallas decided to "get all gassy" and replace electric trams with diesel buses. 

Think of it!  Had Dallas continued with electric trams, it would be on the cover of the Rolling Stone! 

kduble
kduble

None of this matters if they can't get people riding this bus. To do that, they'd need to shorten the entire route from 1 hr 45 minutes to something under an hour, and they'd need to run the buses in both directions.

WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

I will support this only if they put a propeller on the back so I can pretend that's an outboard engine. 

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Nice, but couldn't they get a Calatrava design?

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I'm still holding out for solar power water taxis.

DART, the city of Dallas and Downtown Dallas Inc are splitting the $2.5 million cost for two years of the free shuttle service, then they were going to assess the service and its success. So successful they didn't wait to years and haven't even topped a day with over 500 riders yet and are spending another 13 million. SMH.

However is is cool that the bus is 80% made in the USA.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

"These nine vehicles, along with quick-charge stations (10-minute recharge), will cost around $13 million, which DART hopes to partially offset with a Federal Transit Administration grant. The rest would come from DART and some combination of funding partners like the city of Dallas, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the NTTA, and others."

Let's see - the funding sources are government, government, government, government, government... meaning we're all taking it in the shorts for nine buses costing over a million dollars each.   Bureaucrats must stay up late at night dreaming of ways to waste our money.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Just where and with what fuel was that electricity generated?  Any coal in the mix?  As an advocate for diversity in fossil fuels, I like me some coal-fired plants to mitigate risk.  But they will emit more pollution, making that electric bus a coal burner by proxy.

Stick with CNG for low-pollution.  It works well for use in large local fleets.

gm0622
gm0622

Uhm hmm, And with the charger mounted at the back of the bus. How tall is the new clearance height and which underpasses are too low?


can anyone else say boondoogle?

Sure, I knew you could.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Electric vehicle does not equal zero emission.

And please do not say that the electricity comes from the wall socket or that the electricity comes during off peak hours.

That being said the recharger is a pretty amazing piece of technology.  Mr. Tesla is smiling in his grave.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I think it's a super idea, but... DART keeps trying to "run" before it can "walk".  They need to spend the money on more security officers to ride the rails and buses.  They need to renovate a couple of the oldest stations, like Mockingbird, that are crumbling before your eyes.  And last, but only on my list, is the need for a spur that will carry passengers all the way to Love Field, not just to Inwood, where you have to transfer to a bus (who the hell botched that, anyway?).

kduble
kduble

@rusknative Not so. Gas is notoriously combustible and difficult to transport. That's why so much of it has been flared off throughout history. It's tricky to move about.

kduble
kduble

@mengelman2 The issue is it's a greenhouse gas. Also, the price of natural gas has proven very volatile, far more than even petroleum. When DART first considered gas buses back in the 1990s, it rejected them because diesel was so cheap and gas so expensive.

gm0622
gm0622

@mengelman2  

Would be like the recent requirements for electrical generation up here in the Pacific NW.

Must be a renewable resource, Guess what? Wind turbines and solar made the list. But, hydropower did not and we have a lot of hydro generation dams up here.

Enviros got us again.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@bvckvs  

Fuel cells run on hydrogen, which is commercially produced from...natural gas.


curmudgeon
curmudgeon

@kduble  Buses go in both directions along the route so it doesn't really take that long....

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@ruddski  

That is a Calatrava design.

The design will fall off when it starts moving.

kduble
kduble

@AdamsonScott The reason they cost so much is the manufacturer is recovering R&D costs. If they could ever start getting some big orders, then competitors would enter the marketplace, and those prices would fall in a hurry.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@roo_ster  

My idea solves those problems.

Why doesn't anybody ever listen?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@gm0622  

At least they're not considering the one with the 50,000 ft extension cord.

epicmale
epicmale

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Let is not forget that inserting a step in the conversion of energy from one form to another loses a lot of efficiency.  Going from CNG/Natural Gas to electricity, then transmitting that electricity, involves two stages of loss.  Electric vehicle proponents seem to forget this...or purposefully ignore it.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul And probably Mr. Porsche whose first car was just rediscovered and it was electric -- and he also had hybrid cars as well.  We just should have paid attention to him.  


curmudgeon
curmudgeon

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  At the time of Green Line planning, FTA rules for funding focused on cost and commute time reduction. The tunnel to Love Field didn't play well in this equation. 


With the Obama administration - the rules were changed to focus more on ridership growth. This is why we couldn't have nice things in 2009. DART set aside, I believe, $13 million for a people mover that would connect Burbank to Love Field. Once Dallas got the TIGER grant for the streetcar they so kindly asked DART to throw that money in the kitty to help build the Oak Cliff streetcar. And this too is why we can't have nice things. 

kduble
kduble

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I attended public hearings in the planning stage of the Love Field link. Service to the Love Field terminal would have involved costly tunneling. As is typically the case, Dallas city wanted the direct link, but it brought no funding to the table. This didn't work politically. DART consists of 13 cities, 12 of which have no interest in Love Field.

rusknative
rusknative

@kduble @rusknativeDid you happen to notice the huge fires caused by the 400 plus VOLTAGE batteries in the hugely expensive electric autos????  try messing with 400 volts DC while you are messing about in maintenance as well.

rusknative
rusknative

@kduble @rusknativebull...it was flared off because it was valueless at the time, and there was no collection or transportation at oil well sites....you are messing with an old east texas oil guy here...and when you have no idea about your post, I suggest you STFU.  Economics is the issue re old time flaring off gas....also, maybe you might check into the New London disaster in the 1940s when a school used such gas for heating and blew up the town....that was THEN.

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@kduble @rusknative  It is no such thing.  This countries is covered in hundreds of thousands of miles of pipeline that is used to move natural gas all over this country.  Everyday.  No big deal.  You really should educate yourself or pipe down.  Either one.

AdamsonScott
AdamsonScott

@kduble @AdamsonScott Then let that happen and a few decades down the road, maybe Dallas can buy some of those less-expensive buses.  There's no reason for DART to waste money in this manner.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@epicmale @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

True. However, since we're gonna be making large amounts of electricity anyway, the additional burden for a few buses (at this point) is a rounding error in the existing systemic inefficiencies. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@kduble @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

except that the residents of all those other member cities would also then have direct access to Love Field, and the soon to be nationwide non-stop flights.

Nose, meet noseless face.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Sharon_Moreanus  

So from where is the 80% of the cost?


Sounds like a bus design based on Congressional Districts, which would them make it a pork project.

kduble
kduble

@AdamsonScott @kduble I know it's a lot of money, but Dallas is also trying to create a brand. We can't always be following other cities decades down the road in everything. We have to lead in something.

kduble
kduble

@Montemalone  Not really, because 1) people in the north burbs tend to fly out of DFW. It's mainly Dallas people that use Love, but more importantly, 2) tunneling under Love would have been so expensive it would have delayed service to Farmers Branch and Carrollton for years. Farmers Branch and Carrollton residents wouldn't have been able to ride rail to Love because there wouldn't have been any rail to ride. Tunneling would have gobbled up all of the money needed to extend service to the burbs.

Another thing, funding metrics were different under the Bush administration. It was all based on cost per rider. A direct Love connection would have boosted ridership. But, tunneling would have been so expensive it still would have driven up the cost per rider. Under Obama's DOT, total ridership is given heavier weight in the scoring.

I supported tunneling under Love, and I attended the hearings to put my remarks on the record. But the bottom line is, DART is a regional agency, not a Dallas agency. Thus, costly features that make sense for Dallas don't necessarily sell well regionally. We're looking at a replay with this D-2 proposal to run the Green and Orange lines through Union, and between the Convention Center and the Omni in order to tie everything in to High Speed Rail service at Union. The 'burbs aren't going to care about this stuff. If Dallas wants to be an international destination, it's going to have to come up with some extra money.

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