Electric Vehicles

NYPA providing $39 million for New York City electric bus chargers

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) said it has finalized a $39 million agreement to install 67 overhead chargers for New York City buses.

Under the agreement, the White Plains-based NYPA will provide and install 66 overhead chargers capable of charging a total of 60 buses at four Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) depots in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, as well as an overhead on-street “pantograph” charger at Williamsburg Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn.

A pantograph charger is mounted on an overhead, on-street structure that mates with electrical contacts on the roof of a bus. It provides enough charge during drivers’ rest periods to keep the bus operating for two shifts per day.

Installing chargers overhead allows them to operate with buses from a variety of manufacturers.

The new infrastructure will help support the MTA’s commitment to purchase only electric buses starting in 2028 and to have an all-electric 5,800-bus fleet by 2040. It also supports New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal of having the five largest transit operators in the state electrify their transit fleets by 2035.

MTA and its local operator, New York City Transit, has about 25 electric buses and funding approval for another 500 electric buses in the agency’s 2020-2024 capital plan.

In late May, the MTA said it plans to purchase 60 electric buses this year, a 33 percent increase over its previous plan to purchase 45 electric buses.

Design and engineering work on the overhead chargers at the bus depots began last month.

Construction is expected to begin this fall, with the project expected to be completed within a year so that the chargers will be in operation when the MTA’s next round of electric bus purchases arrives in third-quarter 2022.

ABM and Verdek have signed contracts to help complete the project. The charging hardware is being supplied by ABB and Siemens.

The overhead chargers at the depots will have power levels ranging from 150 kilowatts (kW) to 300 kW. The on-street charger will have a power level of 500 kW.

“Modernizing our public transportation infrastructure is a significant step toward the full electrification of the transportation sector that will remove polluting vehicles from our roadways,” Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Together with the MTA, we will promote a cleaner environment, improve public health and ensure a sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”

Other public power utilities also pursuing electrification

Public power utilities are playing a key role in the electrification of public transportation.

Last October, the Seattle City Council approved Seattle City Light’s Transportation Electrification Strategic Investment Plan, enabling the utility to move ahead with its transportation electrification strategy, which includes customer-facing incentives and out-reach and electrification enablement, such as the development of infrastructure needed to support transportation electrification.

Los Angeles is also transitioning to an emissions-free bus fleet, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is working with the city’s Department of Transportation (LADOT) and MTA Transit to coordinate deployment plans. LADWP has so far helped LADOT install 255 charging stations to support 510 electric buses by 2028 and has created a fleet rate structure for electric fleet vehicle charging.

In Vermont, Burlington Electric Department and Green Mountain Transit in January unveiled two electric-powered buses.

In Florida, Orlando’s transit agency, LYNX, added eight electric buses to serve fare-free downtown circular routes.

And in 2015, Seneca, South Carolina, became the first city in the country to have a totally electric bus system when it deployed five battery-electric buses and two fast charging stations.