Within the next year or so, you’ll see electric-powered buses buzzing around Bayou City.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) recently awarded a $22 million contract to Saint-Eustache, Canada-based Nova Bus for the production of 20 battery-powered electric buses. The contract includes an option for another 20 buses.
The first 20 buses, to be manufactured at the Nova Bus factory in Plattsburgh, New York, are expected to be on local roads sometime in in late 2022 or early 2023. They’ll run on the 402 Bellaire Express (Quickline) and 28 OST-Wayside routes.
METRO also plans to test three to five electric buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Furthermore, METRO is a member of the Automated Bus Consortium, a national organization of transportation agencies working toward development of a full-size, electric-powered automated bus.
METRO is moving toward the purchase of only zero-emission buses by 2030. It eventually wants to operate more than 1,200 electric buses throughout its system. All types of buses account for 1 percent of transportation-caused greenhouse gases in Houston, according to METRO.
Nova Bus, owned by Swedish automaker Volvo, says its electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also cutting maintenance costs.
“METRO is paying close attention to the climate assessments showing Houston will grapple with rising temperatures and more frequent weather events. It is more critical than ever that METRO map out a plan to not only prepare for these events but to mitigate the impact they have on our community as much as we can,” Carrin Patman, chairwoman of the METRO board, says in a recent presentation.
President Biden has tapped Patman, a Houston attorney, to be the U.S. ambassador to Iceland.
Patman has appointed METRO board members Chris Hollins, former Harris County clerk, and Terry Morales, an executive at Amegy Bank, to shepherd the agency’s efforts to combat climate change.
“The impact of climate change is a significant threat to the health and safety of our community,” Hollins says in the METRO presentation. “METRO can and will be a leader in helping the region respond to this challenge.”
“Beginning with the deployment of clean fleet technology,” he adds, “METRO will lead the way in green transit. METRO is taking a holistic approach — transforming not just our buses, but all our business practices — to increase sustainability, resiliency, and carbon emissions reduction.”