As Caltrain looks toward electrification by 2022, SamTrans has taken a step in the same direction: The transit agency purchased 10 battery electric buses in an effort to reduce the fleet’s emissions and enhance the riding experience.

“The board has expressed vibrant interest in electric buses and I’m excited to see they’re becoming a reality sooner than expected,” said Charles Stone, SamTrans board chair and Belmont councilman.

Expected to be up and running by early 2019, the electric buses will complement the 25 hybrids already in service. SamTrans currently operates 302 vehicles, and hopes to reach a fully electrified fleet by 2033, according to a staff report. 

“We wanted the 55 diesel buses we purchased in January to be our last,” said SamTrans spokesman Dan Lieberman. “We’re trying hard to get top-of-the-line vehicles and electric buses are the future.”

The buses, which cost $9.2 million, will replace 10 diesel buses purchased in 2003, some of the oldest vehicles in the SamTrans fleet, according to a press release.

Designed and manufactured by Burlingame-based Proterra, Inc., the 40-foot buses will be deployed on routes throughout the county and can handle 38 seated and 18 standing passengers, and are equipped with WiFi and USB charging ports, Lieberman said.

Proterra, which hosts its corporate headquarters as well as research and development crews in Burlingame, touts its capacity to construct the most energy-efficient standard 40-foot bus available.

The zero emissions buses do not even have a tailpipe and offer a fuel economy equivalent to a personal sedan.

Founded in 2004 in an attempt to build a hybrid bus, the company later switched its focus to battery power and has since developed a model capable of traveling up to 350 miles after as many as five hours charging.

These latest additions to the SamTrans fleet also feature low-maintenance disc brakes and a low floor design, which includes ramps instead of lifts and a Q-Pod wheelchair restraint system, which is safer and easier to operate than the existing ratchet-based system, according to a press release. 

The contract, which includes two charging stations — one at each SamTrans maintenance facility — is funded by federal, state, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and SamTrans funds, according to the press release.

(650) 344-5200 ex. 102

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