Electrification of the MTA’s bus system

bc2927, Ben Carroll

  1. Sustainability Problem:

Today, 28% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and over a quarter of all fine particles originate from road traffic. Public health concerns and environmental degradation are directly correlated to the use of fossil fuels within the transportation sector, and these impacts are drastically intensified within city environments.

2. Sustainable Technology: Electric Busses (Xcelsior CHARGE)

Zero-emissions busses (ZEBs) are a critical technology in combating both climate change and health threats associated with poor air quality in urban environments. As populations in cities across the world increase, it is vital that fossil fuel consumption decreases. As part of the MTA’s $1.1 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan, the agency has purchased 500 all-electric busses, in order to help reach its goal of an all-electric fleet by 2040.

  • In 2020, the MTA’s bus fleet of 5,800 busses burned over 37.5 million gallons of fuel; this cost the agency around $55 million in 2020 alone. Unfortunately, as of today, the MTA bus fleet consists of only 25 all-electric vehicles.
  • In alignment with President Biden’s promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the MTA will begin only buying all-electric busses by 2028, and will use a minimal amount of fossil fuel in their fleet by 2040.
  • New Flyer of America Inc. is responsible for providing the MTA with the majority of the newly purchased electric busses. In 2020, the company provided the MTA with 15 all-electric articulated busses, 16 depot chargers, and one mobile charging unit. In April 2021, the MTA purchased an additional 45 all-electric busses from New Flyer.
  • The busses built by New Flyer are 60 feet long and are called Xcelsior CHARGE. They each contain heavy-duty lithium-ion batteries that are built to meet the demands of the NYC population. Additionally, New Flyer partners with XALT Energy to help improve battery technology and manufacturing of all busses.
  • The all-electric busses will hold a 466kWh batteries, which have an expected range of 50 to 90 miles; the range may depend on weather, number of passengers, operating speed, and street grade. The MTA continuously tracks battery usage, in order to determine areas of improvement and ways to increase efficiency of the technology. The MTA hopes to eventually run its busses on continuous 12 hour routes, without the need for charging.
  • Additionally, the MTA plans to have built 8 of the designated 28 charging depots by 2024. The agency has set a goal of completing the construction of three charging depots a year, until 2040.
  • “NY: MTA plans to only buy electric buses come 2028 as officials map greener future for NYC Transit” (https://www.masstransitmag.com/bus/vehicles/hybrid-hydrogen-electric-vehicles/news/21220212/ny-mta-plans-to-only-buy-electric-buses-come-2028-as-officials-map-greener-future-for-nyc-transit), Mass Transit

3. Stakeholders:

  • NYC Residents
  • MTA
  • Tourists
  • NYC government
  • Real-estate developers

4. Technology Implementation:

  1. The MTA must keep track of their newly purchased all-electric busses and the social/environmental/economic implications of this technology. The monitoring of purchased busses will determine the pitfalls of the technology, which can be used for future development.
  2. Identify neighborhoods that rely most on public transit and work with local leaders and organizations to create an implementation plan for this technology.
  3. Create a long-term partnership with a manufacturing company, responsible for the design and build of all electric busses.








2 thoughts on “Electrification of the MTA’s bus system

  1. Thanks for sharing this article! According to the MTA’s website, New York City has the highest annual bus ridership nationwide (not surprising!) with some bus routes operating 24 hours a day. I am curious if the limitations on the range of these EV buses will lead to any sort of route or process changes within the MTA. Hopefully as EV and charging infrastructure/technologies become more advanced overtime this will become less of an issue. It would also be nice to see the MTA tie some of their charging depots directly to renewable sources of energy, so I am excited to see what those look like in the coming years.


  2. #sp3637
    Interesting article. I just posted about a pilot program that Charlotte NC is launching for electric buses to service the city and surrounding areas. In my opinion one of the biggest challenges of utilizing electric buses is the infrastructure needed to keep them running, as they will draw more energy than a typical Toyota or Tesla electric cars. I wonder how this will impact the City’s Infrastructure and energy needs.


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