Deja vu experience: CTA OKs experiment with 2 electric buses

Burbank electric bus.jpg

This electric bus is being tested in Burbank, Calif.

When I saw the Tribune and Sun-Times reports Friday about the CTA buying two electric buses to test on the mean streets of Chicago, I thought to myself, “That’s not news. We wrote about that late last year.”

And for once, my memory was right. CTA Tattler and the major dailies indeed had reported in October about the $2.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to cover the cost of two 35-to-40-foot electric buses and the electric-charging equipment.

It turns out that the real news Friday was that the CTA board formally amended it capital budget and authorized the purchase of the buses.


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  • I'm not going to repeat my other comment here, but will add that what good does it do the CTA to have a bus with a 30-40 mile range between recharges? Given that an average CTA round trip on one route (i.e. Irving Park from LSD to Cumberland and back; 63rd from Midway to the Beach) is 20 miles, and you have to add deadhead to and from the barn, it may be good for one trip. Maybe two trips if used in the far NW end of the city on a route like 90N, 68, or 88.

    Considering that the DesignLine bus, which was demonstrated here, and got an order from NYC failed, and I thought it had a better chance, since it was a hybrid, I can't really see any different result for these two buses in Chicago. Basically, the feds have paid $2 million for a 1 year test, which probably won't start until late 2012 without asking for specifications first, and apparently without an end game at the end of the year. Do these turn out like the fuel cell buses--i.e. sitting at 78th and Perry unused for eons?

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