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Boston Expands Electric Hybrid Bus Fleet

Published by Smart & Resilient Cities

In addition to adding to its fleet, MBTA has appointed a new GM, while New Flyer announces Comprehensive Infrastructure Service. Learn about these latest developments in our coverage below.

Boston’s electric bus fleet is set to get bigger, and better for the environment, as city leaders and transportation officials continue to make clean transportation a priority. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has executed options for 194 heavy-duty, forty-foot Xcelsior® diesel-electric transit buses from New Flyer of America Inc. The announcement was made in a news release issued in early January by New Flyer of America. New Flyer is the U.S. subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer in North America. Since 2002, New Flyer has delivered over 750 buses to MBTA, including diesel-electric hybrids and low-emission compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

In related news, for its part, New Flyer has also recently announced the formation of New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™ (“Infrastructure Solutions”), a service dedicated to providing safe, reliable, smart, and sustainable charging and mobility solutions. With the announcement, New Flyer becomes the first North American bus manufacturer to offer a comprehensive infrastructure service.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, more commonly known as the T, is one of the oldest public transit systems in the United States. It’s also the largest transit system in Massachusetts. As a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the MBTA provides subway, bus, Commuter Rail, ferry, and paratransit service to eastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. As such, MBTA is the public agency responsible for operating most public transportation services in Greater Boston, Massachusetts.

The hybrid buses, supported by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants, will replace end-of-life vehicles. MBTA ordered its first New Flyer hybrid bus in 2010, and now has more than 200 forty-foot and 70 sixty-foot diesel-hybrid buses currently in operation, as it continues to focus on clean transportation initiatives for the greater Boston area.

“As MBTA focuses on clean transportation, the addition of New Flyer’s extended-range hybrid buses – complete with start/stop technology running on emission-free battery power inside the Silver Line tunnel – will help fulfill its environmental needs while increasing transit service,” said Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer of America.

MBTA Updates

The MBTA is overseen by two governing bodies—the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board and the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB). In December, 2018, according to a news release issued by the transit agency, MBTA Secretary and CEO, Stephanie Pollack, announced the appointment of Steve Poftak as General Manager.

Governor Charlie Baker established the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) in 2015 to rein in costs and ensure that the MBTA operates effectively. The board is made up of 5 members appointed by the Governor and will work to drive organizational change for 3 – 5 years at the T. Among its many goals, the FMCB aims to improve governance, finances, agency structure, and operations. To that end, MBTA launched the Better Bus Project, according to a news release issued May, 2018. The program’s focus is on making improvements to the existing bus network through operational changes, targeted capital investments, and stakeholder partnerships.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, the Better Bus team has and will continue to identify improvements in bus service that would have a positive impact on nearly 450,000 people in 50 communities who rely on MBTA bus service every weekday, according to program details shared in the announcement. In early 2017, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board adopted a set of standards and goals for bus-service delivery. According to the agency, MBTA collected riders’ comments and feedback for over 2 years, which were integrated into the policy. With the policy in place, the Better Bus Project continues to be focused on closing the gap between current service delivery and the adopted policy standards. The plan stated that, as part of this initiative, the MBTA will collect feedback and comments from all stakeholders, including bus riders and non-riders, for bus service delivered out of each of the ten bus garages. The bus network consists of 175 directly-operated routes, 5 contracted bus routes, over 1,100 buses, and more than 2,500 bus operators.

New Flyer Announces Comprehensive Infrastructure Service

As noted, in a January 8, 2019 news release noted earlier in the article, the company announced the formation of New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™ (“Infrastructure Solutions”), a service dedicated to providing safe, reliable, smart, and sustainable charging and mobility solutions.

With the announcement, New Flyer becomes the first North American bus manufacturer to offer a comprehensive infrastructure service. While purchasing a ZEB is one step toward building a zero-emission fleet, developing depot or on route charging infrastructure is the second, most critical step requiring complex technical expertise to ensure successful deployment.

“As transit agencies across North America continue the evolution to smart, sustainable mobility solutions, New Flyer is proud to offer advanced, reliable project management to help ensure the most successful fleet deployment possible,” said Chris Stoddart, President, New Flyer. “Zero-emission, battery-electric fleets require significant resources to build and deploy supporting infrastructure and interoperable charging,” added Stoddart, who noted, “ Now, New Flyer is able to lead the charge with proven expertise in project management and grid planning. We look forward to working with agencies in helping overcome hurdles in electric bus and Bus Rapid Transit adoption.”

New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions™ will support mobility projects from start to finish and focus on energy management optimization as well as infrastructure planning and development, providing a cohesive transition of bus fleets to zero-emission bus (ZEB) technology. This newly established service offering is the result of ongoing industry efforts to provide smart, sustainable, connected public transit solutions. Infrastructure Solutions will conduct site visits, provide design and engineering services, oversee qualified Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) partners to provide make-ready utility services and install chargers, coordinate UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) certification, and provide onsite grid-to-bus testing and commissioning to ensure safe, reliable, and cost-effective infrastructure projects.

About New Flyer and NFI Group

New Flyer has over 50 years of experience in manufacturing zero-emission buses (ZEBs), with more electric buses on the road in America than any other manufacturer, according to the news release detailing the recent order. It is also the only North American manufacturer offering all three types of zero-emission transit bus (battery-electric, fuel cell-electric, and trolley-electric).

In 2018, New Flyer became the first bus manufacturer in the world to sign on to the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities. In addition, according to company reports, New Flyer joined CharIN to support industry charging standards for all electric vehicles, became the first licensee outside the Volvo Group to join OppCharge in North America, and signed CALSTART’s Global Commercial Drive to Zero to support fast-tracking adoption of clean trucks and buses. It also also signed the Transportation Electrification Accord focused on driving an equitable and prosperous future for electrified transportation.

New Flyer www.www.newflyer.com. offers an advanced product line under the Xcelsior® and Xcelsior CHARGE™ brands. New Flyer actively supports over 41,000 heavy-duty transit buses (New Flyer, NABI, and Orion) currently in service, of which 7,300 are powered by electric motors and battery propulsion and 1,600 are zero-emission.

With over 6,000 team members, operating from 31 facilities across Canada and the United States, NFI, according to its website www.nfigroup.com is North America’s largest bus manufacturer providing a comprehensive suite of mass transportation solutions under brands: New Flyer® (heavy-duty transit buses), ARBOC®(low-floor cutaway and medium-duty buses), MCI® (motor coaches), and NFI Parts™ (parts, support, and service). NFI buses incorporate the widest range of drive systems available including: clean diesel, natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, and zero-emission electric (trolley, battery, and fuel cell) on proven bus platforms. In total, NFI supports over 74,000 buses and coaches currently in service across North America.

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