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Posts in Category: C Line

C Line

Challenges don’t change our commitment to electric buses 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, October 09, 2019 1:51:00 PM

A METRO C Line bus. There’s a certain amount of uncertainty that comes with trying something new – like using some of the country’s first 60-foot electric buses. But facing the unknown and accepting that things may not always go as planned is necessary to evolve.

That’s exactly what’s happening with Metro Transit’s electric bus pilot, which began this summer when eight electric buses were put into service on the METRO C Line.

In early October, these electric buses were removed from service amid ongoing efforts to resolve issues between the buses and charging stations at Heywood Garage. New Flyer spent much of the last week at Metro Transit working to resolve the issues that led to that decision.

In the meantime, diesel buses are being used on the C Line so customers experience no service impacts.

While disappointing, this setback does not diminish Metro Transit’s plans to continue purchasing electric buses in the future as funding allows.

Under Metro Transit’s proposed 2020-2025 capital spending plan, eight 40-foot electric buses will be purchased for use on local routes beginning in 2020 or 2021. The plan was presented to the Metropolitan Council on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and will be approved by Council Members in its final form later this year.

Earlier plans had called for the purchase of 19 electric buses in 2020 or 2021, pending new funding. With no new funding forthcoming this past legislative session, the eight new buses were funded within existing budget constraints. Currently, the cost of an electric bus, including charging infrastructure, is about twice that of a diesel bus.

Metro Transit will continue to consider additional electric bus purchases as service, fleet and budget plans evolve in the future. The agency currently has more than 900 buses, including more than 130 hybrid-electric buses that are partially powered by batteries.

Thank you for riding with us as we continue to lead the transition to electric bus technology.

C Line

C Line heralded as ‘future’ of Twin Cities transportation 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, June 10, 2019 10:43:00 PM

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in North Minneapolis to celebrate the opening of the METRO C Line on Saturday, June 8, 2019.The METRO C Line had been open less than four hours when Brandon Martin found himself boarding at one of the Bus Rapid Transit line’s new stations for the second time that day.

“I don’t know what magic you’re using, but the bus seems to just breeze right through,” Martin said after getting on at the Penn & Plymouth Avenue Station.

Martin, who lives near Penn Avenue, was among thousands of people who turned out on Saturday, June 8, to experience the C Line on its first day of service.

Metro Transit’s second BRT line, the C Line significantly improves service in the Penn Avenue corridor, with trips running every 10- to 15-minutes most of the day, larger shelters with ticket machines and other features, and the region’s first electric buses.

Service is sped up by allowing customers to board through any of three doors, moving fare payments off the bus and technology that allows buses to request green lights. The C Line also has fewer stops than local bus service it largely replaces, Route 19.

Before the first C Line buses began running on Saturday morning, supporters gathered for a celebratory ribbon-cutting at Penn and Lowry avenues, where two of the C Line’ s 37 boarding areas is located.

Among them was Gov. Tim Walz, who described BRT and electric buses as the future of transportation in the Twin Cities region. “Look at the future – clean efficient transportation where communities are at the heart of why we do it,” Walz said, standing in front of one of the C Line’s eight electric buses.

After the ceremony, Walz and others traveled north on the C Line to the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, where charging stations will help keep electric buses running throughout the day.

Speedy service and the absence of tailpipe emissions were just a few the features customers were drawn to as they rode the C Line for the first time.

Customers also commented on the spacious buses, less crowded thanks to more frequent service, the addition of USB charging ports and the unique names given to each C Line bus, submitted by students and neighborhood groups.

“These buses are so nice that I might just have to find a reason to ride even when I don’t need to,” said Roderick Gayden, a North Minneapolis resident.

Saturday’s opening was also celebratory for Metro Transit employees who spent years planning and preparing for the start of service.

Among them was BRT Manager Katie Roth, who has been involved in C Line planning for the past seven years.  

"My favorite part of Saturday’s celebration was riding the new bus with customers and hearing how excited they were that Metro Transit had brought something 'just like the A Line' to Penn Avenue," Roth said. "That’s why we do this."

Heywood Instructor Henry Bridges, who helped bus operators learn about the new electric buses, also had a rewarding day. After taking the helm of the inaugural C Line bus, a local boy insisted on meeting and getting a photo with him.

"It's moments like that, which make me love my job even more," Bridges said.

Learn more about the METRO C Line

Know Your Operator: Henry Bridges

Coverage of the METRO C Line’s opening

 

METRO C Line Opening Day

C Line

Electric Bus put through paces in METRO C Line corridor 

Posted by John Komarek | Thursday, April 04, 2019 4:05:00 PM

Buses – especially a brand-new technology like an electric bus – are not like consumer cars where you can buy it off the lot and drive away.

For any bus to work along any route, it needs to be tested, retested, and calibrated. Onboard buses, there’s a complex computer system that controls functions like doors, hydraulic systems, and a host of other items you won’t find in a car. And, these electric buses are no different.

“Every variable we test can have an impact on the entire system,” Matthew Dake, director of bus maintenance said. “That’s why we’re making sure to put this first-of-its kind system through its paces.”

Metro Transit engineers are testing all the systems that could impact range and operator usage to ensure that it’s ready for the opening day of the METRO C Line.

After configuration tests at New Flyer in St. Cloud, the first electric bus is in Minneapolis testing its weight tolerance and range. The bus is loaded with 12,000 pounds of sandbags to simulate passengers. This is more weight than a fully seated bus.

“We’re running with heavier loads to stress test the weight, but also see how that impacts range,” Michael Joyce, assistant director of bus maintenance said. “If we know extremes, we know it will operate better in normal conditions.”


12,000 pounds of sand simulate more than a full load of passengers. This stress test helps transit know the extreme limits of this vehicle.

Engineer David Haas is working to calibrate the electric bus to feel more like driving a diesel. It helps the operators transition to this new bus, but also helps operations understand and control the variables that can impact overall operations.

“Without any changes, the electric bus would feel different to an operator,” Haas said. “By attempting to match items like rate of acceleration, we aim to make the transition to electric easier for our operators.”

Another important test depletes the battery down to lower levels than will be normally expected in daily operations. This helps the team understand how to plan for low power situations and further understand range capabilities.

“Just like a diesel bus, everything from its hardware to the operator to the ambient conditions can impact how the bus performs.” Haas said. “It’s our job to understand the bus inside and out in so we can provide and support the best experience possible.”

During these tests, riders might catch a glimpse of an electric bus along the METRO C Line corridor. Starting on June 8, 2019, we’ll ask our riders to put our electric buses to the test.

C Line

Electric bus put to the test in St. Cloud 

Posted by John Komarek | Tuesday, January 29, 2019 10:21:00 AM

For two days, technical staff from bus maintenance tested the first electric bus produced at New Flyer in St. Cloud.

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At the New Flyer facility in St. Cloud, Metro Transit took not only another step towards opening the METRO C Line, but also a giant step towards the goal of electrifying the bus fleet.

For two days, a team of bus maintenance mechanics and technical support staff from Metro Transit tested the very first battery electric bus to be constructed at that facility and, in the process, achieved a few more firsts.

“It’s exciting to be here. It’s just historic!” David Haas, Overhaul Base technical support engineer said. “Just a few years ago, this would have been considered impossible. Now we’re here and testing it.”

This 60-foot electric bus is one of eight buses that will operate on the METRO C Line, but before the remaining seven are constructed, transit needs to make sure this bus is built to specifications.

“We tested and inspected the bus top to bottom to make sure it’s up to our standards,” Haas said. “It’s also a good time for our mechanics and support staff to familiarize and plan for this new system.”


Haas and Hinck inspect components beneath the electric bus.

Tabin Hinck, supervisor of fleet service lifts/brakes, kept a close eye on details that could become issues throughout these vehicle’s lives. From something as minor as a low hanging part that could drag to the new propulsion system, any part could become an issue and needs to be understood.

“This will be the first time anyone in transit will work with these buses.” Hincks said. “From a mechanic’s perspective, there’s some similarities between this bus and a hybrid, but there are a lot of differences that our team will prepare for.”

Some tests were planned; others weren’t but presented themselves as opportunities. 

Staff planned a highway test that would push the bus to its maximum speed limit of 65mph, but the subzero temperatures were an added stress test that presented itself – both were firsts for this vehicle and transit.  Other tests included acceleration and stopping, which in the cold and snowy weather provided an extreme example of conditions in which the bus may have to operate.


Haas take a moment to review data with a colleague after conducting acceleration testing.

After finishing extensive testing, the team left St. Cloud optimistic but, as is character for any good engineer or mechanic, realistic.

 “It performed well.” Steve Kaari, supervisor of fleet service preventative maintenance said. “But, there’s still a lot to learn. We won’t know the full story until the rubber hits the road.” 

The next steps for the electric buses is dynamic testing along the METRO C Line corridor, which will include the addition of charging the bus batteries in route.

 

C Line

Electric bus chargers arrive at Heywood Garage 

Posted by John Komarek | Wednesday, December 19, 2018 2:33:00 PM

As the METRO C Line pivots from construction to operations, staff at Heywood Garage got their first look at the future of bus technology – an electric bus charger.

This is a temporary installation, but a necessary first step towards familiarizing and training staff on its operation before the delivery of the first 60-foot articulated electric bus in January. Eight permanent charging stations will be installed in Heywood Garage, one for each of the eight electric buses.

At Heywood, bus batteries will be charged to capacity overnight, taking about four hours.  During a route, operators will receive a range-extending charge at the on-route chargers, taking about ten minutes time. Eight permanent chargers will eventually be installed in Heywood and two at the Brooklyn Center Transit Center.

The C Line is expected to launch in the spring of 2019. Metro Transit plans to eventually electrify our entire fleet.

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