The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in Illinois has unveiled plans to nearly double the size of its all-electric bus fleet with the acquisition of 22 new electric buses from automotive company Proterra.
The Chicago Transit Board has authorized the exercising of a contract option for the purchase of additional 40-foot electric buses, valued at $26.2 million. This decision builds upon the original contract awarded to Proterra in 2018, which included a base order of 23 electric buses and an option for an additional 25 buses.
The move is part of the mass transit operator’s “Charging Forward” Plan, which aims to transition to a fully electric bus fleet by 2040.
The funding for the purchase of the new buses will come from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant as well as funds from the Regional Transportation Authority. The arrival of the buses from this option order is expected in early 2025.
The adoption of electric buses will not only contribute to improved air quality but also result in significant fuel and maintenance cost savings for the CTA, the agency says.
It adds that the new buses will provide a smoother and quieter ride for customers, as they produce noise levels comparable to a human conversation. The buses will also be equipped with overhead passenger information screens to display real-time travel information and other service details.
“Expanding our electric bus fleet will allow us to extend the benefits of all-electric buses to even more vulnerable communities on the South and West sides of Chicago, which are adversely impacted by higher rates of harmful pollutants,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We look forward to rolling out these new vehicles in the near future, which will not only help reduce harmful emissions in communities, but also provide our riders with a more reliable and quieter transit experience.”
In February 2022, the CTA released the “Charging Forward: CTA Bus Electrification Planning Report,” which outlines a comprehensive strategy for transitioning the entire bus fleet and operational infrastructure to electric power over the next 18 years. This undertaking involves not only procuring new buses but also establishing charging station infrastructure and upgrading electrical power systems.
Since the introduction of the “Charging Forward Plan,” the CTA says it has secured $29 million in grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration. The agency will use these funds to purchase fully accessible electric buses and make necessary fleet electrification improvements to bus facilities to accommodate the new vehicles, including communication and safety enhancements.