Miami-Dade County public buses are going green.
On Thursday, the county unveiled their new 40-foot electric buses that run solely on battery-powered motors.
In collaboration with the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Miami-Dade purchased 75 new Proterra ZX5 buses, with about 10% of the entire Metrobus fleet consisting of zero emission vehicles.
“Our new buses are not just green and good for the environment, they’re better for our neighborhoods because they’re quieter as they pass by on our streets, at our bus stops,” said Miami Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, of District 5.
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Forty e-buses are already in service along all county routes systemwide, they take about four hours to charge and the goal is to reduce carbon emissions and be climate friendly.
“If it eliminates gas emissions, it’s good for the environment,” said Kathia Montenegro, a frequent bus rider.
"I actually like it. It’s like newer, it’s like Tesla. You know the regular bus is loud. It’s loud,” said Montez Edwards, a frequent bus rider.
The electric buses are not cheap. With a mix of federal, state and county funds, Miami-Dade got approval to spend over $915,000 for the first 32 buses and over $881,000 for the remaining 43 buses.
"Overall, the cost is lower because while you pay upfront for the vehicles, you’re saving in maintenance and oil change and gasoline, so in the long term it’s extremely cost effective," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Bus ridership in Miami-Dade has seen a steady decline. Records show it stalled in 2020 into 2021 in part because of the pandemic but there could be a bounce back.
Recent numbers from Miami-Dade’s Ridership Technical Report show Metrobus usage was up 47% compared to the same time last year.
“We are seeing an increase in bus ridership. We’re at 86% of where we were before the pandemic where it went way down so we’re very encouraged. Obviously with traffic, people are seeing the benefits of riding public transit," said Levine Cava.
County leaders also unveiled the new bus passenger shelter program. The completely renovated shelters include better shade from the sun, new trash cans, bike racks and improved pedestrian accessibility.
This latest move is part of an ongoing effort to improve the experience on public buses.
"Everything about Miami-Dade Transit bus service is going to be transformative as we launch by the end of the year our Better Bus network. Over 350,000 more residents are going to have access to high frequency bus service," said Higgins.