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MTS Retires Last Diesel Buses, Welcomes Electric Buses To Fleet

People board an MTS bus in National City, Aug. 8, 2020.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: People board an MTS bus in National City, Aug. 8, 2020.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System retired the last of its diesel buses and added two more electric buses to its fleet Friday as the agency strives to convert its entire bus fleet to zero emissions by 2040.

"MTS retiring the last of its diesel buses from its fixed-route fleet is a monumental leap forward in air quality," said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and San Diego County Supervisor. "It represents our commitment to environmental justice, sustainability, air quality and to being one of the leaders nationally in achieving these ambitious environmental standards."

Replacing the last diesel buses will be 24 Compressed Natural Gas express commuter buses built by Motor Coach Industries.

"Not only do the new MCI CNG buses offer an improved riding experience for our customers, we get substantially better air quality results from them as well," said Sharon Cooney, MTS CEO. "There will be a 100% reduction in particulate matter, and a 98% reduction in NOx emissions over the diesel counterparts."

The express commuter buses have 57 forward-facing seats and are designed for highway speeds. The vehicles will operate out of MTS' East County Division in El Cajon, serving passengers on the Rapid Express 280 — Escondido- Downtown San Diego — and Rapid Express 290 — Rancho Bernardo-Downtown San Diego.

As it retired the diesel fleet, MTS also added two zero-emission battery electric buses, upping the agency's total to eight. MTS began its zero- emission bus pilot program in 2017, and intends to complete a full transition to 100% zero-emission fixed-route vehicles by 2040.

The two California-made GILLIG buses are the first of seven to be delivered to MTS. Equipped with six onboard batteries, each bus has a battery capacity of 444 kWh, providing an estimated range of 140 miles. The buses utilize energy recovered from a regenerative braking system.

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