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Monday, March 27, 2023

Regardless of Shopping for a ‘Lemon,’ Juneau, Alaska, Is Not Carried out with Electrical Buses

  • It isn’t simple preserving metropolis passenger buses up and working, particularly in chilly climates. Swap out the diesel for electrons, and you have got a brand new set of challenges, like decreased vary and slower charging occasions.
  • Juneau was the primary metropolis in Alaska to purchase an EV for its bus fleet, however repeated issues with a wiring harness have typically saved it sidelined. Producer Proterra stated it’s engaged on a extra sturdy harness for the town’s bus.
  • Even with this EV pace bump, Juneau has ordered one other seven electrical buses. This time, although, they are going to be made by Proterra competitor Gillig.

Colder climates could be a problem for a lot of electrical autos to carry out nicely in, however it’s not simply the temperature inflicting issues for Juneau’s public transit system. The Alaskan capital introduced in 2021 that it might add a 40-foot, all-electric passenger bus to its fleet, however the zero-emission mannequin has recurring mechanical issues that power Capital Transit to park the bus within the storage for weeks on finish.

proterra electric bus canada

This model of Proterra’s electrical bus goes to the town of Victoria, British Columbia.


The problem is a defective wiring harness that the transit company has repeatedly tried to repair however typically nonetheless disables one of many bus’s two motors. Alaska Public Media (APM) reviews that the bus’s producer, Proterra, nonetheless wants to provide Juneau with a substitute half.

Nonetheless, electrical buses are coming to Alaska. Whereas Juneau was the primary to buy an EV for its bus fleet, the town of Anchorage examined an electrical bus in 2018. Smaller municipalities together with Ketchikan and Metlakatla have additionally introduced plans so as to add electrical buses to their fleets.

Vary Dropped with the Temperature

When Juneau’s lone electrical bus was capable of ferry passengers round city, drivers and metropolis managers sang its praises. As may sound acquainted to electrical passenger-car drivers, bus drivers preferred the quieter journey, and the bus wanted much less upkeep. In frigid climate, although, the 440-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery’s 210-mile vary dropped to 100 miles, and the battery took longer to cost. Capital Transit superintendent Wealthy Ross advised APM that the defective harness and different points aren’t placing Juneau’s transit authority off electrical buses.

“There’s going to be studying curves alongside the best way,” Ross stated. “So whereas this bus has been a lemon—considerably of a lemon—we additionally perceive the know-how is bettering in leaps and bounds as time goes on.”

Proterra agrees.

“With the introduction of any new know-how, we count on there to be some studying curves alongside the best way,” the corporate advised Automobile and Driver. “These learnings enable us to enhance merchandise. On this case, we’re working to design and supply a extra sturdy harness to help Juneau’s bus.”

Juneau’s defective bus is a 2020 mannequin, and in 2022 Proterra introduced that its 40-foot ZX5 electrical transit bus could possibly be outfitted with a 738.0-kWh battery.

“This newer product is now the popular selection for municipalities in northern climates to buffer in opposition to the extra heating necessities of maximum cold-weather days,” Proterra stated.

gillig ev bus

Gillig electrical bus.


Capital Transit has already ordered seven extra electrical buses, however this time they are going to come from certainly one of Proterra’s opponents, Gillig. Gillig additionally manufactured the 17 diesel buses utilized in Juneau’s fleet. Gillig’s electrical buses are already in use in locations with intense winter climate, like Missoula, Montana. The corporate introduced final month that it had acquired the highest-ever rating for a battery electrical bus, 89.5, on the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus Check Program in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Mainly acing that reliability check meant that Gillig’s e-buses may qualify for buy with federal funding {dollars}. Gillig has additionally introduced that 45 transit businesses throughout the nation would use cash offered partially by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act to buy Gillig’s low- and no-emission buses. The Proterra bus stays in Juneau’s fleet.

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