written by on January 24, 2023
  • miamitodayepaper.com


Deadline electric bus deal boosts New South Dade rapid transit

New 60-foot battery electric buses are now set to run in two years on the South Corridor rapid transit project, which was delayed as the global supply pinched during the pandemic. Earlier it was planned to start the service from this month itself.

In order to order the buses by the end of the month in order to preserve the price guarantee for bidders due to inflation and supply issues, the commissioners agreed to buy 100 buses for more than $175 million to get them operational by February 2025. Voted 12-1 last week for.

Because time was short, a committee did not discuss the contract at first.

District Commissioner Keon McGhee called for the vote to be withdrawn during the meeting, after he had inadvertently allowed it to pass unanimously. Although he did not explain his “no” vote, he has been a proponent of rail service for the corridor, part of the SMART program that links six phases of rapid transit. The 20-mile-long South Dade Corridor, which stretches south to Homestead, was intended for buses alone, an issue that has been hotly debated.

The contract with America’s New Flyer calls for a pilot bus to arrive in October, followed by 60 so-called left-hand drive buses between June 2024 and February 2025. To serve the transitway, they are designed with special doors on the left side to align with the platforms of 14 stations to allow level boarding, without any step ups.

“As such, no buses will operate and these special buses are critical to procurement in time for the opening of the South Corridor,” said a memo from County Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales.

The remaining 40 buses will open from the right for other bus routes. They have to come by July 2025.

The contract includes 50 depot base battery chargers and two on-route charging systems. There are optional spare parts, training and equipment that are not included in the deal.

The Morales memo states, “Battery-electric buses are generally best suited for low-speed, stop-and-go driving, as is typical by most people. [transit department’s] bus operations.” The memo didn’t explain why the county is purchasing low-speed buses for rapid transit as opposed to the city’s block-by-block stops.

“Studies indicate that the total lifetime cost to own and operate a battery-electric bus is approximately 35% lower than a diesel bus,” the memo said. “This purchase aligns with the administration’s goal of making at least 50% of the transit bus fleet battery electric by 2035.”

The Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust recommended acceptance of the contract with New Flyer, which Mr. Morales wrote “is now the largest bus manufacturer in North America.” The only other bidder was disqualified when it refused to sign the county’s confidentiality waiver.

The new service is scheduled to run on the South Dade Transitway, which runs on the former roadbed of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway, a rail line closed in 1972 and sold to the Department of Transit in 1979. 2022, but a fight over Metrorail expansion to the south and then supply chain issues slowed progress. The county says the last of the 14 stations is scheduled to be completed by March 2024.

Although level boarding platforms in rise stations are now built for conversion to rail, any conversion is conditional on user numbers which are likely to be unattainable soon, if ever. County transit use is falling across all modes; It’s down more than 27% over the last four years.

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