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Marin Transit to Purchase All-Electric Buses: Could More Be on the Way?

In 2017, Marin Transit is committed further to reducing carbon emissions by displacing its oldest buses in its fleet and replacing them with electric buses. As early as November 2016, the transit agency persuaded the Marin County Board of Supervisors to purchase two BYD all-electric, 35-footer buses worth $1.527 million, in which it will have a slow-charging mechanism just like a regular Tesla car. The Board unanimously approved the plan, in which deliveries will take place by December 2017.
Marin Transit General Manager Nancy Whelan, along with one of her assistants, presented to the Board of Supervisors their rationale to order two brand new buses. The transit agency currently has 18 diesel-electric hybrid buses in operation:

  • Four 30-footer Gillig BRT (operated by Marin Airporter)
  • Seven 35-footer New Flyer DE35LF (operated by Golden Gate Transit)
  • Seven 40-footer Gillig BRT (two operated by Marin Airporter, five by MV Transportation)

The transit agency also expects ten (10) additional hybrid buses to be delivered in 2017 to augment its growing fleet. It is expected to use those new buses on any of Marin Transit’s local services, especially on routes that can be flexed between shuttle vans and buses.

The all-electric buses, however, could be seen on routes operated by Golden Gate Transit (Routes 23, 23X, and 29) and Marin Airporter (Route 22), especially that those are within suitable range of all-day operations of those vehicles. It is unclear if MV Transportation, which operates Routes 49 and 122, will be interested in procuring an all-electric bus to augment its Gillig BRT Hybrid and El Dorado National XHF buses. Other routes that could benefit from the BYD All-Electric Bus include:

  • Route 17 (San Rafael – Sausalito via Mill Valley)
  • Route 233 (San Rafael – Santa Venetia via Dominican University)
  • Route 251 (San Marin – Hamilton via Vintage Oaks)
  • Route 257 (San Rafael – Indian Valley College via Northgate, Kaiser)
Come February 2017, Marin Transit will once again return to the Board of Directors, updating them on the progress of the all-electric bus procurement project. It will also be the opportunity for the transit agency to present their case to the Board about constructing two brand new electric charging stations at a Golden Gate Transit facility (most probably in San Rafael).  What is unclear is whether Marin Transit will procure either the 35-foot (K8) or 40-foot (K9) variant, especially that BYD produces electric buses of various lengths (23-, 26-, 35-, 40-, and 60-footer), and that the vehicles can work in tandem with existing vehicles operated by the contracting agencies. It is more than likely, however, that Marin Transit will replace the oldest TMC-RTS buses with the all-electric vehicles, which are 40 feet each.

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