San Diego MTS launches region’s first electric rapid service

Posted: 18 October 2023 | | No comments yet

With Rapid 227, MTS introduces 12 cutting-edge 60-foot electric buses, marking a significant step towards their ambitious goal of achieving an all zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.

MTS bus

Credit: San Diego MTS

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has announced that it has launched its first-ever electric Rapid service. Rapid 227, the new electric service, now connects the communities of Otay Mesa, Nestor and Imperial Beach, offering commuters a more sustainable and efficient transit option.

The introduction of Rapid 227 is a significant step toward a greener and more sustainable future for public transportation. The service features a fleet of 12 state-of-the-art 60-foot electric buses, making them the first articulated electric vehicles to join the MTS fleet. 

Rapid 227 brings a range of advantages to the region, particularly for the thousands of daily pedestrians crossing from the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. These travellers can now seamlessly access the Otay Mesa Transit Center and reach Imperial Beach in just 40 minutes or less. With only 10 limited stops along the route, Rapid 227 ensures efficient travel, offering a connection from the border to the UC San Diego Blue Line via the Iris Avenue Transit Center in just 15 minutes. The service operates at intervals of 15 minutes or less throughout most of the day, ensuring frequent and reliable transportation for passengers.

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Stephen Whitburn, Chair of MTS and San Diego City Council Member for District 3, said: “Rapid 227 means better bus service for South Bay and binational commuters. With the launch of Rapid 227, MTS will offer more than 600 extra hours of service between the border and Imperial Beach when compared to existing service. The route will also feature new, cleaner, quieter electric buses.”

Notably, Rapid 227 is a significant milestone in MTS‘s commitment to transition to an all zero-emissions bus fleet by the year 2040. The electric bus fleet is charged using an innovative $8.5 million overhead gantry charging system, which can charge up to 24 battery-electric buses at a time and can be expanded to accommodate more charging capacity as MTS continues its transition to an all-electric fleet over the coming years. This technology allows buses to be docked under the gantry and fully charged in just a few hours. MTS is the first transit agency in North America to introduce this type of charging infrastructure.

The complete Rapid 227 project is expected to be fully operational by 2024. It will feature new stations and amenities, a traffic signal at Coronado Avenue/30th Street and further improvements at the Iris Avenue Transit Center, enhancing the overall commuting experience for residents and visitors alike.