Capital Metro increases initial investment in electric buses to 12 vehicles in 2020

In 2020, Capital Metro will put 12 electric buses into service. The first two went into operation Jan. 26 and feature artwork from students in East Austin. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
In 2020, Capital Metro will put 12 electric buses into service. The first two went into operation Jan. 26 and feature artwork from students in East Austin. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

In 2020, Capital Metro will put 12 electric buses into service. The first two went into operation Jan. 26 and feature artwork from students in East Austin. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

An excess in sales tax revenue will mean Capital Metro can purchase an additional two electric buses to put into service during peak periods.

The additional two buses will bring Capital Metro’s initial electric-bus investment to 12 vehicles in 2020, up from the 10 buses approved last April. By 2024, the agency aims to have 80 electric buses in service.

During fiscal year 2018-19, the regional transit agency received an additional $17 million in sales tax revenue than originally budgeted, an amount that was 7.5% higher than in FY 2017-18, Chief Financial Officer Reinet Marneweck said in December. The agency opted to put $15 million in its capital expansion fund for future needs, she said. The remaining $2 million will fund the additional electric buses.

Capital Metro’s board of directors approved amending the FY 2019-20 budget Jan. 27 to include the additional $2.1 million expense for the buses.

Marneweck said unlike the other 10 electric buses, which will replace aging diesel vehicles, these two new buses will be added to the fleet and used in peak periods on some of the agency’s most congested routes, such as 801, 300 and 20.

“It shows you how much Capital Metro has impacted our community,” President and CEO Randy Clarke said of the demand on those routes.

On Jan. 26, the agency put its first two electric buses into service. The vehicles feature a wrap containing artwork from students at Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary Media and Performing Arts Institute in East Austin. Capital Metro unveiled the buses Jan. 22 and plans to roll out the remaining vehicles this spring.

Later this summer and fall, Capital Metro also plans to add digital displays to 67 of its MetroRapid buses and the new electric buses. The board also approved Jan. 27 the $1.35 million contract for the 29-inch-wide displays that will provide real-time bus arrival information, service updates and other useful information, said Dottie Watkins, the agency's chief operating officer and chief customer officer.

"Really the sky’s the limit in terms of the information we can put there," she said.


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