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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Bendable Bus Debuts in the High Desert

Antelope Valley Transit Authority got a step closer to its goal of having an all-electric fleet by the end of next year with the delivery of a new 60-foot battery-powered bus. The transit agency took possession of the bus on May 3 in the presence of representatives of its manufacturer, BYD Motors Inc. The articulated bus – with the accordion-like connector between two cars – joins two 40-foot electric buses the authority has used since 2014. The new bus can seat 60 passengers and travel for 200 miles on a single charge. Authority Executive Director Len Engel said the agency was excited about getting the 60-foot bus. “We’re really looking to prove the technology, prove that it can work and prove that it’s an effective and efficient way to provide transit services,” Engel said. The new bus will be used on the authority’s Route 1 that travels along 10th Street West between north Lancaster and south Palmdale. Engel called the route “the backbone” of the service and it has overcrowding issues on its buses. “This is going to give us some capacity,” he added. The authority is spending about $78 million to convert its entire fleet to all-electric buses. It is getting assistance through two state grants totaling just more than $30 million, a Los Angeles County grant, federal money and matching funds, Engel said. The agency will get another 12 articulated buses over the next few months, and also on order are 21 of BYD’s 40-foot buses and 16 of its 45-foot commuter buses used for service between the Antelope Valley and downtown Los Angeles, Century City and the San Fernando Valley. The buses are all manufactured at BYD’s plant in Lancaster, which opened in 2013 and now employs more than 600 workers. BYD Motors is the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. BYD Motors President Stella Li said it had been a pleasure partnering with the authority leadership in working toward the goal of an all-electric fleet. “The new 60-foot articulated bus is the first generation of the most advanced electric bus on the market,” Li said in a prepared statement. By going with a zero-emission fleet, the authority wants to show other transit systems that electric vehicle technology is a viable option, Engel said. For the past couple of years, the agency has hosted at least two visits per month by representatives from other transit groups coming to see what the authority is doing. Visitors include officials from Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia and Canada, Engel said. “This sets the stage for even more of our efforts to educate other transit operators,” Engel said, referring to the new buses. – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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