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2021 Electric Truck & Bus Update, Part 2: Buses

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Aug 31, 2021

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This is Part 2 and focuses on buses. Battery-electric buses are being deployed more rapidly that medium and heavy battery-electric trucks, mainly because of federal and state incentives.

The other major consideration, especially for electric utility professionals, is that battery-electric buses take a huge amount of energy to charge them. Also many of these vehicles will perform depot recharging en masse. This will be mostly overnight in transit depots. These facilities are currently not prepared for the massive load increase as their vehicles transition to electric operation.

Section 2 of this report will describe all major manufacturers of buses, their offerings and any new developments by those firms. Section 3 will describe how fleet managers can evaluate and remedy the overload risk described above.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 31, 2021

It's great to see the attention on electrifying buses-- I hope cities also align that with reviewing the existing bus systems to make the routes and timing and even dedicated lanes such that buses are more attractive options to greater populations. Too many cities are set up well for buses which decreases their use and encourages people to continue to drive instead-- urban planning has to be a part of the transportation decarbonization process

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Sep 1, 2021

Thanks for the comment, Matt.

Many of the main Streets in San Francisco are mainly for buses (or have lanes so designated). Also most of the freeways in the Bay Area have dedicated HOV lanes. I assume this also applies to the other major metropolitan areas in California, and I know other states are doing this too.

Many of the HOV lanes in CA are also "Express Lanes" where vehicles with a transponder can use them for a fee. (same transponder that is used for toll bridges). I don't have such a transponder, and I accidentally jumped into one of these lanes just before it turned into a normal lane , and I was sent a bill (I believe for 50 cents). All of the Express / HOV lanes have cameras with license-plate readers, and occupancy readers. Since many cities in CA now use license-plate readers for law enforcement (stolen cars, etc.), I assume the license plates read on the freeways are also made available to the CHP, etc.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 1, 2021

That sounds like a terrific model. When I lived in DC, it seemed like their bus system was pretty robust like this (not to mention how successful the metro system was in moving people without needing personal vehicles).

Now I'm in Orlando which is like many cities across the country-- they weren't designed to be cities, they grew organically outward and so the bus system struggles to serve it efficiently and effectively (and forget any hope of a subway system being feasible). These types of metro areas are the ones I think of when wondering what the future of transportation in a decarbonized manner could look like, since it's hard to imagine the public transit system really coming into favor like those in denser cities like SF, NY, DC, etc. 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Sep 2, 2021

John, Just for fun have you seen the new driverless Electric bus that they are now running up in Golden?  I have been following this because my son goes to the School of Mines -


John Benson's picture
John Benson on Sep 2, 2021

Thanks for the comment Audra.

If you look in section 2.6.3, you will see an autonomous pilot is being planned by Jacksonville Transit. I guessed that this is fixed route also. 

About a year ago, I wrote about and "end-of-route" low speed fixed-area transit solution being piloted in my area (Livermore Valley).. This is linked below.


Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Sep 3, 2021

Hi John,

Great article. The Antelope Valley Transit Authority case study that you cite in your publication uses WAVE charging technology (inductive/wireless), logging over 5M miles on their electric buses.

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Sep 7, 2021

Hi Charles, thanks for the comment.

Yes - I am aware of this, as I working on a future post on WAVE. and I downloaded the Wave AVTA Case Study, and saved it. I will use it as a information source when I get around to writing this. Since I haven't started writing this yet, I will guess it will be posted in very late Sep or early Oct. 

I've been tracking Electric Buses for several years, and I've always thought that a high-capacity wireless charging system would be necessary port of the solution, at least until LiIon batteries increase their capacity and reduce their costs enough to allow e-buses to be delivered with a several-hundred mile range.

Be sure to see the paper I posted this morning - it's part three of this series, and covers an excellent study commissioned by the California Energy Commission et al on the right energy technology going forward. There is a link below.


John Benson's picture
Thank John for the Post!
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