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