- The Boston area's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) intends to buy a new fleet of hybrid transit buses, says bus manufacturer New Flyer.
- The 194 Xcelsior diesel-electric buses will replace aging buses. New Flyer has provided MBTA with 270 hybrid buses since 2010.
- The purchase is partially funded with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants.
Boston released its comprehensive, long-term transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, nearly two years ago. Climate responsiveness is a major guiding principle in the plan, which involves providing the capacity for more trips to be taken on public transit and reducing emissions. Transitioning the bus fleet to hybrid models fits in with those strategies.
The plan explains the need to reduce emissions because of the effects the Boston area already is feeling from climate change. Severe flooding and storm surge has increased in frequency and significantly affected the city in the past several years. Portions of the city near the coast essentially have been shut down when storm surge floods the streets. That has an impact on transit lines, and MBTA warns that worsening effects of climate change could affect every transit line during the most severe weather events.
This year is expected to be a landmark year for improvements on the city's bus network. Last year MBTA began its Better Bus Project, which eventually could result in a widespread bus system overhaul. The project is still in the research and planning phases, but recommendations for system improvements are expected this year. Modernizing Boston's bus system is important because, as the Boston Herald reports, nearly one-third of the entire transit systems daily trips are bus rides. Part of the modernization is devising dedicated bus lanes.
Running in parallel with Boston's local bus improvements, the federal government has been providing funding for many bus projects across the country. Last April, the FTA awarded municipalities $264 million in grants for 139 projects to improve bus networks. In August, the FTA granted $84.5 million to 52 low- or no-emission transit projects, which were for hybrid or battery-electric buses and/or related infrastructure, such as charging stations.