(TNS) — For some Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus riders, their commute will be a bit greener — and even somewhat quieter — by year’s end, officials say.
On Wednesday, the CTA signed off on the purchase of 20 all-electric buses at an estimated cost of $32 million.
The buses will all be purchased by 2020, with several hitting the streets by year’s end. The buses will be used on two downtown routes that have high ridership — and will be close to charging stations that will be installed: The No. 66 Chicago, which travels from the West Side to Navy Pier, and the No. 124 , which travels between Navy Pier and Ogilvie and Union stations.
The transit agency is stressing that the electric buses will cut maintenance and, of course, fuel costs. But what riders might first notice is that it’s a quieter ride because of the engine and exhaust system, said Brian Steele, spokesman for the CTA.
“The purchase of these 20 new electric buses represents a new path for Chicago’s public transit, one that is greener, healthier and more efficient for all who live and visit our great city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel is quoted as saying in a statement. “This is just the latest example of the types of investments we will continue to make in the years to come, further solidifying Chicago as a world class city that is at the forefront of modern and green technologies.”
The biggest chunk of the $32 million will go for the buses, which cost an estimated $900,000 apiece, Steele said, explaining that the money will also pay for charging stations. The CTA’s total annual operating budget is $1.5 billion.
The addition of the electric buses comes as the CTA continues to see a decline in overall ridership on its 1,800-bus fleet. The number of riders dropped from 2.7 million in 2015 to 2.4 million in 2017, according to the city’s data portal.
But the CTA thinks the quieter and environmentally friendly buses will appeal to potential riders.
“Well, anytime the CTA invests in modernization and new technology, it’s always well received by customers,” he said.
Two electric CTA buses powered by lithium-ion batteries first hit the pavement in 2014. It takes three to five hours to charge each bus, according to the CTA’s website, and buses can run up to 120 miles per charge. Each bus has a life span of about 12 years, according to the CTA.
As part of the plan approved during Wednesday’s monthly CTA board meeting, five charging stations will be installed around the city so buses can top off. Stations will be installed at Navy Pier, the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Austin Boulevard and at the agency’s Chicago Avenue garage, near Pulaski Road, according to the release.
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