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Electric Buses

Metro Transit Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) Transition Plan

Under state statute, the Metropolitan Council is responsible for developing a Zero-Emission Bus and electric vehicle transition plan and revise the plan once every five years (Minn. Stat. 473.3927). The initial plan was submitted to the Legislature in February 2022.

Zero-Emission Bus Transition Plan [PDF]

The Plan identifies short- (2022-2027), medium- (2028-2032), and long- (beyond 2033) term opportunities, risks, and implementation strategies to transition Metro Transit's bus fleet to zero-emission technology. 

According to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency 2018 data:

  • The transportation sector in Minnesota accounts for about a quarter of all statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Buses (including school buses, transit buses, and intercity buses) account for 0.7% of transportation GHG emissions in Minnesota

The transition to zero-emission buses is one of many strategies Metro Transit intends to implement to make a meaningful impact on tackling climate change.

2022 ZEB Transition Plan Annual Report

Metro Transit hosted the annual Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Transition Plan stakeholder update summits in October 2022. The 2022 annual report, containing the graphics and content presented at the annual update, is available below.

2022 ZEB Transition Plan Annual Report [PDF]

View a recording of the 2022 annual report presentation at the Sept. 25, 2023, Transportation Committee meeting beginning around 1:32:00. Metro Transit will produce a report and host a Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) stakeholder summit annually.

Timeline of Metro Transit sustainability initiatives

  • 1991 First bus-only highway shoulder lanes reduce idling in rush-hour traffic
  • 2002 First hybrid electric buses introduced
  • 2007 Particulate matter trap filters introduced, reducing particulate matter emissions
  • 2010 Diesel Exhaust Fluid introduced, reducing nitrous oxide emissions
  • 2012 First solar and renewable energy sources begin to power buildings and facilities
  • 2016 First non-revenue electric vehicles
  • 2019 First battery electric buses begin service on METRO C Line
  • 2023 North Loop Garage opened, designed to include electric bus charging equipment
  • 2023 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded Metro Transit $17.5M Low or No Emission grant for procurement of 12 new battery electric buses and 15 chargers

Three guiding principles and six supporting actions were established as the framework for the Transition Plan and for use in defining the definition of a successful transition to ZEBs. The guiding principles are Technical Viability, Equity and Environmental Justice, and Fiscal Impact.​

Technical Viability  · Strive to achieve a level of service where ZEBs and diesel buses are referred to as just “buses” rather than by their propulsion type  · Partner with Xcel Energy to assess and upgrade electrical infrastructure for bus operation and maintenance facilities  Equity and Environmental Justice  · Implement and prioritize ZEB service reflecting transparent fact-driven community engagement and education  · Target ZEB investments to make a difference in communities where air pollution, racial, and socioeconomic disparities are greatest while also balancing the challenges of new technology  Fiscal Impact  · Deploy ZEBs in a fiscally efficient manner in order to maximize use of vehicles and infrastructure  · Operate and invest within fiscal means by planning for and optimizing capital and operating expenditures while pursuing new funding streams

Metro Transit engaged interested stakeholders and communities October to December 2021. Engagement included:

  • Virtual stakeholder summit
  • Public survey
  • Outreach to frontline Metro Transit staff
  • Presentations to Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhood organizations

Participants ranked environmental and population characteristics in surveys and interactive polling at virtual summit and neighborhood presentations. This data is the basis of an Equity and Environmental Justice prioritization method which will assist in prioritizing areas for ZEB implementation.

2021 ZEB Transition Plan Stakeholder Summit Recording

ZEB Transition next steps

Milestones establish key targets and projections for the transition to ZEBs over a set period of time. Metro Transit intends to establish milestones for the transition to ZEBs that are set in five-year increments. 

  • Vehicle Procurement: Vehicle procurement measures the percentage of transit vehicle procurements that are ZEBs over a specific time horizon.
    • Target: Between 2022 and 2027, at least 20% of Metro Transit’s 40-foot bus replacement procurements will be electric.
    • Projection: Between 2028 and 2032, the percentage of Metro Transit bus procurements that are zero emission will be driven by key performance indicators and available budgetary resources.
  • Continued ZEB Transition Plan Outreach – Metro Transit will continue to conduct outreach to stakeholders including progress updates and future plan updates. If you have questions about the ZEB Transition Plan, please contact Julie Martinez at [email protected] or 612-349-7328.
  • Performance Measure Reporting – Metro Transit will update the Council on performance of the ZEB fleet and infrastructure at least once per year.
  • Budget Planning – Metro Transit will update the capital and operating plans annually based on ZEB fleet and infrastructure performance.  

Metro Transit’s commitment to learning and leading in shift to electric buses 

Metro Transit is committed to reducing vehicle emissions by bringing more electric buses into its fleet. This commitment is reflected in these actions:  

  • The purchase of eight 60-foot electric buses for the METRO C Line  
  • The development of a Zero Emission Bus Transition Plan 
  • The inclusion of electric bus charging equipment in the new North Loop Bus Garage
  • The planned deployment of five 60-foot electric buses on the METRO Gold Line (2025) and the inclusion of electric bus charging equipment at East Metro Garage
  • The purchase of 20 40-foot electric buses expected to be used on local routes beginning in 2026

Electric buses by the numbers Vehicles Manufacturer: New Flyer of North America, St. Cloud Fleet size: 8 60-foot “articulated” buses Range: <100 miles Cost: $570,000 more than a diesel bus ($870,000), not including charging equipment Top speed: 65 mph 5 onboard 466 kWh batteries  Diesel-fired auxiliary heater to preserve range in cold weather Infrastructure 8 gas-pump style overnight chargers at Heywood Garage 2 rapid overhead chargers capable of 12-minute booster charges Performance 40% range reduction in cold temperatures Chargers have been unreliable, causing service delays In 2020, diesel buses were available 88% of the time; electrics 75% Strong partnership with Xcel Energy to power the electrics, including using renewable energy for overnight charging

Still learning

Bus manufacturers and service providers across the country are at the forefront of the transition to electric vehicles. Metro Transit is proud to be a part of the industry’s shift and believes electric buses will represent a growing share of America’s transit fleet over time.  

Metro Transit was among the first agencies in the country to use hybrid-electric buses. The agency’s first electric buses entered service in 2019, with the opening of the METRO C Line.

Current fleet 

Currently, Metro Transit’s bus fleet includes:  

  • 444 40-foot diesel buses
  • 224 60-foot diesel buses
  • 87 40-foot hybrid-electric buses
  • 59 45-foot coach buses
  • 8 60-foot electric buses

Buses typically remain in service for around 12-14 years before they are retired and sold.