ART’s electric buses: worse for the environment and will require costly additional facilities

Dowd Muska provided some additional information about how the Berry Administration’s move to electric buses for their ART system is a bad idea that will cost more than traditional diesel buses, but wait…there’s even more bad news!

According to Conservation which is published by University of Washington:, electric buses are actually worse for the environment than their diesel counterparts:

A recent life cycle assessment (LCA) compared battery-powered electric buses to diesel-powered (internal combustion engine) mass transit buses. (1) It revealed that diesel buses have smaller environmental impacts in eight of the 11 impact categories studied. Diesel buses fare better in important environmental categories such as global warming potential (GWP; i.e., carbon footprint), ozone depletion potential, and carcinogens released into the environment. The battery-powered bus fared better only with respect to aquatic eutrophication, land acidification, and the release of non-carcinogens such as mercury, cyanide, and nitrates.

Of course, ABQ RIDE now faces a slew of additional costs (to be born by Albuquerque taxpayers) has no tools, no equipment, no training or knowledge by which the electric buses could be integrated into the system without huge “Support Facility” investment.

Just the electric bus recharging facilities would be a major expense, and would require new lines, terminals, electric service upgrades, and a host of other tools needed to maintain electric buses. Of course, since the rest of the system will remain intact, there will be few cost savings.

BYD Lancaster (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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11 Replies to “ART’s electric buses: worse for the environment and will require costly additional facilities”

  1. Since coal is the primary fuel for electric power generation in New Mexico, it’s accurate to say that the new ART buses will run on coal power. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

  2. Stuff left out don’t cost nothin’ an’ don’t gotta be fixed

    That ’53 Power Wagon runs better
    every day, and is immune to emi!

  3. What’s wrong with the busses running on naturl gas? Isn’t that the cheapest fuel that has few negative environmental effects? It’s certainly a readily available fuel.

  4. One aspect of electric buses was not discussed in the RGF article. The article in “Conservation” further stated “The future, however, is not entirely bleak for electric battery buses. The study found that in states where electricity is generated predominantly from renewable or nuclear energy rather than coal and natural gas, the GWP (Global warming potential) of an electric battery bus is lower than that of a diesel bus. This is a reason to support wind and solar production in New Mexico and consume it in New Mexico. Small nuclear reactors (300MWe) can be built with less capital investment than larger nuclear reactors (1000MWe) and have a smaller footprint.

    Dan O’Connor is partially correct. Natural gas is cleaner than gasoline and diesel, but does produce nitrogen oxides albeit at lower levels than gasoline and diesel. Nitrogen oxides are precursors to smog.
    Yes, recharging facilities would need to be built. It might be possible for the bus charging stations to support electric car charging. Drive your electric car to the bus station, plug it in and ride the electric bus. There has been legislative proposals to incentivize construction of charging stations.

    This is not a one size fits all solution. This problem ideally fits a systems engineering approach to the problem that will produce alternative solutions. The City of Albuquerque could contract with one of the National Laboratories to analyze the problem and provide alternative solutions. New Mexico money spent in New Mexico. Could be a win/win for Albuquerque.

    Excuse the earlier posts.

  5. An electric bus is the perfect metropolitan vehicle in that it doesn’t pollute at the source and regardless of what fuels the electricity it adds a diverse possibility of free market energy sources. Also, an electric bus is extremely efficient in stop and go traffic as it doesn’t waste energy sitting at stop lights. The electricity in NM should be generated from Natural Gas or whatever is most cost efficient.

    1. Electric buses DO pollute and if you read the article you might be aware of some of those problems. For starters, electricity generation involves the burning of fossil fuels. More importantly, the batteries require large amounts of “rare earth minerals” and other elements.

  6. The maintenance costs for electric buses offer significant savings over the long term for maintenance costs. When was the last time you replaced the electric motor in your fan? Imagine no more oil changes or emissions after-treatments. Imagine not having to maintain an engine, fuel system, cooling system or exhaust system.From Proterra’s website: With Proterra, all that effort and expense is a thing of the past. And without all those costs, maintenance savings can add up to $237,000 over the lifetime of a Catalyst compared to a diesel-hybrid bus, and up to $151,000 compared to diesel. With a substantial reduction in inventoried parts, the savings are dramatic.

  7. just curious how long the batteries will last? How much it will cost to replace the batteries. How will those gigantic old batteries be disposed of? Is electric really better? How can someone start quoting the cost savings over the lifetime of the buses when they have not been used yet? Stats usually show what the person wants them to support. There was a natural gas vehicle conversion for the city in which I live. A 1/2 ton truck had a range of 100kms then had to be refilled at one of 5 locations in the city. The street sweepers while on natural gas did not have the power to get up some of the hills. The dump trucks had 5 massive natural gas tanks upright behind the cabs of the trucks which I believe was a health and safety concern. The fleet was mothballed and sold for 1/10 of its value.

    1. All of these are excellent questions. Decisions should be made based on performance and cost, not politics, but we know that is not the way it works most times.

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