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Pace launches first electric bus in southwest suburbs, first step to go zero-emission by 2040

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Pace on Friday introduced its first electric bus, the transit agency’s initial step in its goal to convert its more than 700 buses to zero emissions by 2040.

The bus will enter service in the southwest suburbs on route No. 381 between the CTA Red Line 95th Street station and Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

Besides electrifying one of its buses on the route, Pace will place sensors at intersections to pause green lights to keep buses moving, Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger said at a news conference at Pace’s Southwest Division garage.

“Once we build it, there will be much more service on 95th Street. We’re really pleased to try the electric bus here first,” Metzger said.

Pace acquired the electric bus months ago and has been using it for testing and training, Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski said.

Pace felt it was finally ready to enter service on Friday, he said.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended the conference, helped secure federal funding for Pace’s 22 electric buses on order for this year.

Ten of those buses will be based at Pace’s Waukegan garage, which it plans to convert to fully electric operations by 2026, Kwasneski said.

Pace is also getting a paratransit electric bus in the next week or two, he said.

Pace announced Project Zero in 2021, its goal of having an all-electric fleet by 2040. The transit agency said it will cost $1.5 billion to convert its nine garages to handle electric buses, and $840 million to purchase 700 electric buses at $1.2 million apiece.

The Chicago Transportation Authority has its own goal of becoming all-electric by 2040. But critics say the CTA is not investing at the same level, proportionally, as Pace.

Pace has set aside $311 million over the next five years for bus electrification, nearly the same at the CTA, which has more than twice as many busses. Pace is planning to spend $233.4 million on garage electrification over the next five years.

The CTA said it had 25 electric buses as of last May, when it expanded electric service to a second bus route. The CTA has electric buses on two of its lines: The No. 66 Chicago Avenue bus, and the No. 63 route between 63rd/Stony Island and Midway Airport.

The CTA’s battery-powered fleet is still paltry compared with its 1,900 total buses, which mostly run on diesel fuel.


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