The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has unveiled the first three of five electric bus prototypes for its Silver Line.
With support from a $10 million federal grant, the MBTA procured the 60-foot, battery-electric buses from New Flyer. All five are currently in Boston, with the first prototype having arrived in April to begin testing and operator training. Three buses entered service on Wednesday on Silver Line Routes SL2, SL3, SL4 and SL5, with the next two anticipated to enter service on these routes by the end of the summer.
The buses are powered by both rear axle and center axle electric motors to enhance safe operation during the winter months. Five charging stations are being built within the Southampton Bus Garage and Maintenance Facility, where each bus will charge overnight.
On Wednesday at the facility, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; MassDOT’s secretary and CEO, Stephanie Pollack; and the MBTA’s general manager, Steve Poftak, gathered to celebrate the introduction of the buses.
“These new zero-emission, completely battery-electric bus prototypes are an emerging technology aimed at providing a safe, reliable, comfortable ride while lowering energy costs and reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” said Pollack. “We are pleased to take steps forward with the process of evaluating whether these kinds of new technologies that promote sustainability are appropriate for daily service for MBTA customers.”
During the two-year testing period, the MBTA will gather data to measure the vehicles’ performance and operational effectiveness, with a focus on power consumption of electric heaters, operator/passenger comfort, vehicle range impact during extreme conditions, charging requirements, and projected operating costs.