Challenge / Goal
One of the most significant barriers mass transit agencies face in the move to zero emission vehicles is range. How can we make our battery-electric buses go as far as diesel buses? In 2014, the Antelope Valley Transit Association (AVTA) leadership set out to become the first transit operator in the United States to have a fully electric local bus fleet. With the range of battery electric buses (BEBs) limited to between 249 to 354 km, the agency needed to solve the problem of covering routes over 467 km.
Flash forward to April 2021, and AVTA’s fully electric 65-bus local fixed-route fleet logged its five
millionth mile, less than seven years after its first electric bus went into service. Moreover, the agency is able to cover its longest routes with a single battery-electric bus.
While BEBs have a shorter range than diesel buses, two charging strategies can effectively mitigate this:
• Depot charging combined with larger bus batteries and/or using multiple BEB’s to cover long routes
• Extending BEB range using in-route charging (recharging through the day)
In-route charging (also referred to as “opportunity” charging) can still require overnight depot charging, but charging throughout the day extends vehicle range beyond the single-charge
range of onboard batteries. This allows for smaller, more affordable onboard batteries, which can reduce vehicle cost. Studies have also shown that topping off batteries during the day and
avoiding extreme charging from deeply depleted states will extend battery life.
AVTA serves Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, which extends south into the Los Angeles basin and north to Edwards Air Force Base and the Mojave Air and Space Port. With total
annual ridership of more than two million commuters, the fixed-route service consists of a network of 13 local transit routes covering 260 km2.
To avoid the cost of purchasing multiple BEBs to cover a single route, AVTA chose an in-route charging strategy with wireless chargers to augment their depot plug-in chargers. “When you integrate wireless in-route charging into your scheduling and make it a routine part of how you do business,” said Neshati, “you can just eliminate the whole concept of range anxiety.”
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Planning time: 0.5 - 1 years
Implementation time: 1 - 2 years
Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA)