Electric buses hit the road in Albany

By David Bertola

National Grid has partnered with Capital District Transit Authority to provide the energy infrastructure backbone for the City of Albany’s four new electric buses.

The zero emission, 40-foot buses were purchased from New Flyer of America and introduced to the public on Jan. 10. They part of a pilot program to test the technology and charging infrastructure. Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) will monitor the buses’ range, charging timelines, electricity usage and performance throughout its route network as it looks to expand in the future.

CDTA CEO Carm Basile was joined by National Grid regional director Laurie Poltynski as Albany’s first electric bus went into service.

“We know the transition to electric vehicles can be daunting for many fleet owners, especially when it comes to navigating the charging infrastructure and deployment,” said National Grid regional director Laurie Poltynski. “As the utility we are committed to helping our customers overcome that barrier to EV adoption.”

National Grid will assist CDTA in the operation of what’s being referred to as a virtual lab, where the buses, routes and charging schedules will be tested. On Jan. 10. Poltynski talked about the virtual lab, and National Grid’s electric vehicle support in a short video that can be found here.

CDTA used a federal grant to invest in the electric bus battery technology and associated support equipment. The buses will be quieter and are expected to yield lower operating costs than both diesel and natural gas buses. Feedback from customers and employees will be analyzed as part of the pilot program.

The cost of the pilot program is about $3.7 million, which includes $900,000 for each bus, which contains 42 batteries. Meanwhile, each charger weighs 5,200 lbs., costs $121,000 and has a charging capacity that’s 20 times more than common electric vehicle chargers.

National Grid and Sage Engineering supported the project by designing the electrical capacity upgrades at CDTA headquarters.