by: COURTESY OF TRIMET - Look for this all-electric bus for a free ride in the near future.Some TriMet riders will soon be able to ride an electric-powered bus for free.

The regional transit agency has received and will soon be testing an all-electric 40-foot bus for two weeks throughout the region.

The zero-emissions, environmentally friendly bus was manufactured by Build Your Dreams Motors, Inc.

“This is a welcomed and exciting opportunity to test an environmentally-friendly bus on TriMet routes,” says TriMet Interim Deputy General Manager Bob Nelson. “Our region is relying more and more on renewable sources of electricity. As an agency, we are exploring a variety of more fuel-efficient options as the environmental benefits are expected to increase over time.”

The bus will run on various routes, adding trips between regular service, Monday through Friday, beginning June 23. Testing will continue through the first week of July. There will be no testing on July 4 due to the holiday.

According to TriMet, in order to simulate actual operating conditions — including stopping, starting, light and heavy loads — the test bus will pick up and drop off riders. The bus is not equipped with a farebox or ticket printer, so rides on the electric bus will be free. Any transfers to other TriMet buses or trains will require a fare, however.

BYD touts their all-electric bus as “clean, silent and efficient,” using the industry’s first environmentally-friendly, fire-safe battery chemistry. BYD is currently taking the U.S.-made bus on tour to various transit agencies in the Northwest.

BYD projects that combined energy and maintenance savings will eventually offset the initial purchase price. BYD says its electric buses run entirely off battery power, lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of two to four hours. There is NO transmission or internal-combustion engine.

Battery chemistry is environmentally friendly, making it disposable and pollution-free with zero emissions, BYD says.

This no-cost testing phase will give TriMet first-hand experience with a vehicle it may purchase as part of a new Federal Transit Administration grant program in the near future. To learn more, visit

TriMet says it is exploring opportunities to introduce greener, more fuel-efficient buses into its fleet. The agency recently submitted a grant proposal to the Federal Transit Administration for $5,630,800, with a $5,348,000 local match, to purchase a total of nine all-electric vehicles and charging stations. TriMet expects to hear the results of that grant request this fall.

The upcoming testing period has no connection with the federal grant, but will allow TriMet a unique opportunity to look under the hood and kick the tires before a purchase, should the grant funds be awarded.

The potential long-term savings to the agency are encouraging. Initial testing of BYD’s buses has suggested substantial operating cost savings not only compared to 40-foot diesel, CNG, or Hybrid Electric buses, but also competing manufacturers’ battery electric buses.

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