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DASH leaders say city needs remote charging and more to make electric bus fleet viable

Electric DASH bus, photo via DASH/Facebook

If the city wants a fully electrical bus fleet, DASH leadership said its going to need to invest in making sure buses can recharge across the city.

In a meeting with the City Council ahead of the legislative session last night, DASH General Manager Josh Baker outlined some challenges facing the city as it pushes to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2035.

The city is already laying the groundwork for some of the infrastructure needs. DASH is currently undergoing an expansion that will add a new electric bus lot. There are other areas, though, where Baker said the city’s needs are outpacing technological limits.

“The technology is very new so we’re very much a pioneer on the implementation of this,” Baker said.

Some of the challenges to the electric bus fleet were already noted in earlier reports. Cold weather, for instance, can cause the batteries to drain more quickly because power is being redirected to heat. Other reports noted that electric buses can sometimes struggle with hills.

One of the larger issues, Baker said, is that electric buses will need to charge while traveling the city in-service rather than needing to come back to DASH headquarters.

“We need to see the technology continue to catch up to address charging infrastructure and we’re looking for ways to have equipment that can charge buses en route rather than bring them back to the facility, charge for several hours, and sent back out on service,” Baker said. “That’s what we need to figure out to have a fully electric fleet that’s sustainable.”

Baker also said that cost is currently an issue, with electric buses costing nearly twice as much as standard diesel buses.

“An electric bus costs several hundred thousand dollars more per unit than a standard diesel bus counterpart,” Baker said. “[It’s] $575,000 for a diesel and around $900,000 for electric.”

But Baker said as there’s more production and nationwide implementation of electric buses, that could change.

“Those numbers are coming down and we believe implementation across the country will help that, but it is early on,” Baker said. “We need to see the technology catch up.”

Photo via DASH/Facebook

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