, , , , ,

Milwaukee Joins Madison In Introducing Electric Buses

Milwaukee Awarded $1.7M Grant For Battery Electric Buses

An All Electric Bus
An All Electric Bus, a Zero-Emissions Vehicle, produced by China’s BYD Co., is parked at the announcement of the opening of an electric bus manufacturing plant in Lancaster, Calif. Reed Saxon/AP Photo

The Federal Transit Administration granted Milwaukee County more than $1 million for electric buses last month. Now, Milwaukee joins Madison in preparing to transition its buses away from fossil fuels.

The city’s current buses run on diesel fuel but with the $1.7 million “Low or No-emission” grant, Milwaukee is starting the planning to bring electric buses and the infrastructures to support them into the city.

Last year, Madison’s Metro Transit was given the same grant and will introduce three electric buses in 2020. Milwaukee expects to have electric buses on the road by 2021.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb is leading the effort to modernize the city’s transit system. He said the electric buses will still rely on power generated from fossil fuels but it’s a start toward promoting a clean environment.

“The buses we buy are dramatically different than what we will be able to buy in five years or 10 years but I don’t think we should wait to get started,” Lipscomb said.

He also stated in the Milwaukee County Board press release that the electric buses should cost Milwaukee County taxpayers less than diesel buses over their lifetime.

As of right now, Madison and Milwaukee are the only cities in the state implementing electric buses, said Milwaukee County research and policy analyst Kenneth Smith.

But the process has not been easy. People have expressed concerns about the buses’ performance in cold winter conditions and their range.

But the Milwaukee County Transit System Managing Director Dan Boehm said they hope to learn from other cities who already have the buses on the streets.

“So we are seeing the industry continue to change,” Boehm said. “We’ll be looking to those best practices and adopting those ourselves.”

Milwaukee will purchase four electric buses by the end of the year.