On the outside, electric buses may look like all the others in the Metro McAllen fleet.
“They look just like all the other buses here, but they will be five feet longer so we’ll have a little more capacity for passengers,” said Mario Delgado, the transit director for the City of McAllen.
What makes the buses different is what’s on the inside.
“It is very quiet because it has electrical components. It doesn TMt have a diesel engine, so it TMs a very quiet bus,” Delgado said.
Being that is has a zero emission propulsion system, the all-electric bus has virtually no environmental impact, but that TMs not all.
“You don TMt have to plug it in at all. It TMs completely inductive. It charges over an 8-inch air gap so basically there TMs a transmitter embedded in the ground and there TMs a receiver on the bottom of the bus. As the bus pulls into the stop, it TMs charging inductively without having to connect,” Delgado explained.
The buses will automatically charge as they pull into the station at the end of each route. They average layover time is between 10 to 12 minutes.
“A fully electric bus will get you a 120 to 130 miles on one charge. We typically run 160 miles so that wireless charging will that will be achieved throughout the day will allow you to run the full 160 miles without having to pull the bus out of service, Delgado said.
McAllen purchased two of the new buses, which would make it the owner of the first inductive charging electric bus system in the State of Texas. A federal grant covered 90 percent of the expenses for the project.
“It sounds great. I think they should do it everywhere,” said Valley resident Jill Carrizales.
The new buses cost a bit more, $600,000 a piece versus $400,000 for the traditional diesel fuel buses, but Delgado explained it TMs well worth it. The average bus has life of 12 years and the electric ones require less maintenance.
“It TMs about 20 cents per mile on an electric bus, whereas it TMs about 75 cents per mile on a diesel bus. You TMre saving 60 cents a mile, we run about 50,000 miles a year.”
Not everyone is thrilled though.
“A lot more vehicles are going to want to become electric, it TMs going to ruin the trucking business for a lot of truckers-reason being that diesel costs go up,” said Robert Salas.
Salas owns several diesel trucks. He isn’t completely against the idea of electric transit, but he just doesn TMt want to see the trend impact privately-owned businesses.
“For public transportation, it would be fine as long as they don TMt start moving it into other things. I guess for the city, it’s pretty good,” Salas said.
The buses are expected to be arrive in McAllen at the end of the month. Once testing is complete, the buses will likely be placed on route four, which is the busiest routes for Metro McAllen.