Electric Bus Trial Starts In New York City

The streets of New York City could soon be a little more pollution free courtesy of a new electric bus pilot program the mass transit agency there has just begun. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), currently in possession of one of the largest green fleets in the world, is in a two month trial with Chinese automotive company BYD to evaluate how one of the latter’s electric buses can perform in this city’s famous heavy traffic.

BYD should be a name familiar to those watching the evolution of electric buses as zero emissions replacements for aging, fume belching options in use in cities worldwide. The company’s offering, with a slated operating range of around 150 miles, “features a new battery technology of iron phosphate which promises to be more rugged,” according MTA. These buses are currently in various phases of testing or actual deployment in many major markets already, one of the latest of which was Hong Kong.

image via MTA

image via MTA

During the evaluation, MTA officials will be watching to see if the electric bus

can meet the twin challenges of operating in the stop and go traffic of Manhattan while maintaining high levels of passenger comfort and operational performance.

Like other electric vehicles, it will take a little bit of time to recharge the batteries of this bus, with MTA noting one can expect downtime of at least four hours. This may not work well ultimately for all routes across the entire service area covered by this agency, but it at least believes reasonable usage could occur for certain Manhattan lines.

“This test continues the MTA’s commitment to examine new, cleaner and more efficient bus propulsion technologies that include Hybrids, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Clean Diesel and now potentially all electric battery drive,” said Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus and SVP, MTA NYC Transit’s Department of Buses, in a statement.

Whether or not MTA can make a BYD electric bus cost effective remains to be seen, with the New York Daily News reporting one of these models alone runs near $800,000. This is compared to $450,000 for a diesel operated one.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply September 16, 2013


    Why BYD? Long Beach is already having trouble with their BYD buses, too
    heavy and damaging the roads, failed at Altoona testing with cracks in
    the welds and got pulled out, and on top of that, it’s not even made in
    America. BYD lied (yes flat out lied) when they were bidding on the
    Long Beach contract that their buses were already being used by Apple
    and Hertz…which both pointed out that they were not. BYD claims
    they’re going to build buses in a new California factory with US sourced
    components, which is why they got the Long Beach contract, but in
    reality all the buses being trialed are all built in China. Our
    brilliant officials in Long Beach finally woke up to that fact and now
    are delaying final procurement of the BYD buses until a US-made bus with
    US-sourced components is built and tested at Altoona, i.e. at least 2015.
    We could have followed our neighbors in Foothill and bought Proterra
    buses – US-designed, sourced, built and Altoona tested. Foothill and a
    bunch of other cities are already on their follow-on orders for their
    Proterra fleets while we’re still breathing diesel fumes. I’d wish you good luck, NYC, but that won’t be enough when you’re dealing with the liars at BYD!

  • Reply September 19, 2013

    John Bailo

    Are they using any Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses like many other communities are doing (London, Vancouver, San Jose)?

Leave a Reply