The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will be closely monitoring the effects of their electric vehicles in 2022 as part of their new sustainability initiative.

The METRO board of directors approved the purchase of 20 electric buses at the Nov. 18 board meeting, as previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper. METRO will source the buses from Nova Bus, a contract that will cost them an estimated $22 million.

METRO’s ultimate goal for their sustainability initiatives is to only purchase 100% zero-emission buses by 2030, according to Monica Russo, public information officer and media specialist for METRO.

The plan for sustainability has been one that has been in the works and a top priority for METRO for several years, according to METRO board member Christopher Hollins.

“The plan continues to be in motion. We're still building it. We're still thinking through it with the team, but even prior to this being formalized in the way that it has been, METRO has been a leader in this space, whether it's conserving water, whether it's recycling, whether it's conserving energy. We want to do that for our own organization,” Hollins said.

METRO hopes to have the buses in their possession by late 2022 and roll them out as soon as possible. Despite the buses being electric, they should not appear any different from the normal buses that customers currently ride.

The ticket prices will not change and the way the electric buses drive is only slightly different from the current buses METRO uses. The only major difference is in the way that the buses drive, meaning that METRO drivers will require some extra training.

Even before these plans were set into motion, METRO has previously been doing work to study the environmental effect transportation has had on the city.

“We have been looking at environmental impact for several years. We actually did a memorandum of understanding with the Environmental Defense Fund a couple of years ago to help us get some direction and some additional information and data,” METRO’s Chief Innovation Officer Kimberly Williams said.

The board also approved carrying out a contract with Creative Bus Sales for the purchase of 10 electric paratransit vans and chargers at the Jan. 27 meeting for $3.1 million, another aspect of the sustainability plan.

“We want to be a role model for other transit agencies, and to set a standard for the city of Houston and for this region,” Hollins said.