CTA taking 6 electric buses for trial run

The prototypes are part of a green initiative by the CTA and are running on the #66 Chicago route between Austin and Navy Pier.

By Mari Devereaux 

Passengers now have the opportunity to take a ride on the future of the Chicago Transit Authority.

The CTA announced Friday that six prototype electric buses are officially out on the roads, carrying passengers between the Austin neighborhood and Navy Pier on the #66 Chicago route. If the buses perform well on the road, the CTA said it will approve an additional 17 electric buses for use along various routes.

A CTA spokesperson said the test period will likely last a few months, and the agency plans to have all 23 electric buses by early 2022.

The first time the CTA tested electric buses was in 2014, and both vehicles were able to handle Chicago’s weather and temperatures. So the transit agency decided to buy more electric vehicles.

The CTA aims to have an all-electric bus fleet by 2040. The agency has more than 1,800 buses on the road.

“The introduction of these new electric buses is just one example of how the CTA is committed to adding more green vehicles, addressing climate change and being more environmentally conscious,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a news release.

Proterra is contracted to provide 23 electric buses for about $900,000 each. The manufacturing company has built electric buses for more than 60 U.S. transit agencies.

The buses can travel between 75 and 120 miles on a full charge, the CTA said. Five quick-charging stations have been installed at the Navy Pier and Chicago/Austin bus turnarounds, as well as the Chicago Avenue garage to power the buses. The overhead chargers allow buses to charge and return to service.

Some perks of the electric buses include lower carbon emissions, lower fuel and maintenance costs for the transit agency, a more smooth and quiet ride, and new overhead screens that display real-time travel information and other service information.

The CTA said it is working on other “green” initiatives including the use of hybrid buses, which use electricity and clean diesel fuel; possibly using more energy-efficient lighting in vehicles and facilities; and recycling vehicle materials and customer and employee waste.