San Diego MTS Board approves new all-electric rapid bus route

Posted: 21 March 2023 | | No comments yet

In line with its commitment to transition to a 100% zero emissions bus fleet by 2040, San Diego’s MTS will begin operating the region’s first battery electric rapid bus service in Autumn 2023 in South Bay.

San Diego MTS Board approves new all-electric rapid bus route

Credit: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board of Directors has announced that it has approved ‘Rapid 227’ (Iris Rapid), as part of the region’s growing bus rapid transit (BRT) network, with service anticipated to begin as early as Autumn 2023.

‘Rapid 227’ will provide a first-of-its-kind battery electric operated rapid service in San Diego’s South Bay, linking the Otay Mesa Transit Center to neighbourhoods along the Imperial Beach shores. The future route will also connect riders with the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley at the Iris Avenue Transit Center, providing an important link to employment and education centres in downtown San Diego.

“The beginning of the region’s first electric rapid route is a huge leap forward towards a greener future, environmental justice, sustainability and better air quality,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and San Diego County Supervisor, District 4. “When Iris Rapid is in full operation, MTS will have 25 electric buses operating in its fleet, with hundreds more on the way. This will be a great milestone to reach as we transition to an all zero emissions bus fleet by 2040.”

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“Our binational region will benefit greatly with the addition of Iris Rapid,” said Vivian Moreno, MTS Board Member and San Diego City Council Member, District 8. “In 2021, 2.1 million pedestrians crossed the border northbound at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Thousands of those commuters use our bus system daily to get to jobs and education opportunities. Iris Rapid will reduce emissions, speed up trips, offer better amenities and provide longer spans of service. This is the type of bus service that both South Bay and Baja residents deserve.”

The new electric buses serving the new route will be stationed out of the agency’s bus facility in Chula Vista. At this bus division, MTS is finalising construction of a new $8.5 million overhead gantry charging system, capable of charging 24 battery electric buses at a time, and will be expandable to add more charging capacity as MTS transitions to an all-electric fleet in the coming years.

The total cost of this project is $37 million to purchase the 12 battery electric buses and add the necessary infrastructure. Funding has been given from a combination of California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and Low Carbon Transit Operations Program grants, and MTS’s Capital Improvement Program.