Electric DASH Buses To Begin Service In DTLA Next Week

L.A. transportation leaders introducing LADOT's first electric bus. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
L.A. transportation leaders introducing LADOT's first electric bus. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At a press event today, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin, and L.A. City Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds introduced the first of four electric LADOT DASH buses. Starting next week, LADOT will be running electrified bus service on LADOT DASH Route A, which extends from the Arts District to Central City West primarily via First, Figueroa and Flower Streets. Initially one electric bus will be in circulation. The fleet will gradually increase to four by mid-2017.

The four new 35-foot electric buses were purchased by LADOT under a $2.8 million grant from the California Energy Commission, administered by CALSTART. The buses are manufactured by BYD in Lancaster in northern L.A. County.

LADOT's first electric DASH bus to begin operations next week
LADOT’s first electric DASH bus to begin operations next week

Mayor Garcetti, a self-avowed “electric car enthusiast – or some would say – geek,” touted the air quality benefits of electric transit. Electric buses, according to the mayor, represent a 90 percent emissions decrease compared to diesel buses. The mayor touted the city’s transition to electric vehicles, including significant portions of the city and LAPD fleets. Electrification is important for global-scale greenhouse gas emissions, but also significantly benefits the local air breathed by riders, pedestrians, and indeed all users of streets.

“Can you hear me over the sound of this bus?” joked Councilmember Bonin. Electric buses, in contrast to relatively-environmentally-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, are incredibly quiet. Bonin further remarked that electric buses are fiscally responsible. LADOT expected to save $16,000 per bus annually in ongoing gas and maintenance costs.

DASHinterior
The electric bus interior looks pretty similar to other buses

And that’s not all. These electric buses come with their very own free wifi, which was used by press conference attendees today.

Garcetti, Bonin and Reynolds all drew contrasts with Metro’s reluctance to embrace electric buses. In October, the Metro board voted to continue to rely primarily on CNG for its massive bus fleet through 2025, with a few limited pilot exceptions. Nearby Foothill Transit is already operating full-sized electric buses and has committed to an all-electric bus fleet by 2030.

"The chargers are coming" is the headline Garcetti suggested for these DASH electric bus charging stations
“The chargers are coming” is the headline Garcetti suggested for these DASH electric bus charging stations

LADOT DASH electric buses have a range of approximately 150 miles, enough to easily cover a downtown DASH bus daily routine. The buses charge overnight at LADOT’s DASH Transit Maintenance Facility on Washington Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Full recharging takes approximately three hours.

  • Perhaps that’s because Metro already had experience with BYD Buses, which could not hack it on route 18?

    BYD = “Bring Your Drawbar”

  • Nice! Electric vehicles are an essential part of any solution to climate change and air pollution. Transit agencies need to get on board so that everyone, not just people who can afford electric cars (and houses to charge them at), and not just people who live near rail, have access to cleaner vehicles.

  • 
    In which BYD bought back the 5 electric 40-footers that had been used in regular service on Route 18, but “experienced low reliability”

    https://media.metro.net/board/Items/2016/06_june/20160622otheratvcitem6.pdf

  • neroden

    The BYD buses are reliable enough for Foothill Transit, but if you don’t like them, order your battery-electric buses from New Flyer (Chicago is) or Proterra (Seattle is).

    There’s no excuse for ordering fuel buses.

    The most imporatant note in your citation is “Technological advances in BYD manufacturing at BYD have made these five vehicles an ill fit for current Metro operation”. Obviously, buy NEW BYD buses….

  • neroden

    See below. This year’s BYD buses are just fine, but if you don’t like them, order Proterra or New Flyer, which are just fine too.

    NO excuse for ordering fuel buses.

  • Did you read the memo? Metro “experienced low reliability”. As did Copenhagen (in Danish, use Google Translate):

    https://ing.dk/artikel/movia-dumper-kinesisk-elbus-dyr-stor-usikkerhed-batterierne-185594

    As for Foothill, they don’t have any BYD buses. They were the launch customer for Proterra.

  • Where have I bashed electric buses? And Metro is buying new BYD buses for the Orange Line using the credit they have from the return of the failed ones. But they are also hedging their bets by buying from NeWFlyer too.

  • neroden

    Did you read the memo? No, you obviously didn’t read it AT ALL.

    BYD is replacing the 2015 buses and giving a full credit towards new 2017 buses with (a) larger batteries and (b) higher-powered motors. They’ll be just fine.

    My mistake confusing Foothill with one of the other agencies which is perfectly happy with BYD buses.

    All three of the electric bus companies are perfectly reasonable to buy buses from.

  • neroden

    OK, sorry I misunderstood you.

    You sure sounded like you were bashing electric buses, though. The complaint by Garcetti and LADOT was that Metro was foot-dragging about buying electric buses, and you brought up issues with five expermental buses from two years ago in response to that.

    Such issues are not an excuse for Metro to buy fuel buses.

  • I am all for electric buses, if they can stand up to daily service challenges. I recognize that the field is evolving quickly, but I wonder how much of the desire to go with BYD is due to the Lancaster assembly plant, when it is clear to me there are better options on the market.

    And despite what the BYD memo from. Metro stated, I gather there were issues with the 60-foot demonstrator when it ran on the Orange Line Busway.

    P.S. Here is the memo on the New Flyer purchase:

    https://media.metro.net/board/Items/2016/06_june/20160622otheratvcitem5.pdf

  • Vooch

    Buses are a perfect match for electric.

    the entire floor can be batteries, no mechanical transmission needed,

    therefore a huge low height flat floor

    more seats, easier boarding, and faster starting

  • I certainly hope you are correct that BYD is improving their product.

    Proterra appears to have, any they are a USA based company, although they do use the frequent re-charge method that BYD eschews.

    For now, I will wait to see it actually happen. The BYD 40 footers that Metro tried to use on route 18 were a dud.

  • Spike N LngBch

    LADOT Transit has a long history of choosing manufacturers that provide a sub-standard product, or end up going out of business sooner then later. Makes perfect sense they would go with BYD!

  • There is considerable pressure on agencies in California to order BYD products given the assembly operation in Lancaster. I just thought that LADOT had been following Metro’s experience and got the fact that these are duds. But perhaps as I stated in another comment, the BYD product has improved. I very much hope so.

  • Nicholas L

    BYD fixed the issue and is replacing the LA buses. These are also the new ones.