Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which is heavily dependent on diesel vehicles, is going to purchase up to 20 electric buses that will run along two routes.

Houston’s electric bus purchase

Metro runs around 1,200 buses, so 20 electric buses will make up a tiny percentage of the entire fleet. The vast majority run on diesel, and less than 80 run on natural gas. Around 385 are diesel-electric hybrids.

Houston’s Metro is skittish about e-buses because it thinks they won’t be able to handle the city’s heat. It’s also worried that the Texas grid won’t be stable enough to keep electric buses running. But it plans to transition its entire public transit fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Kimberly Williams, chief innovation officer for Metro, said [via the Houston Chronicle]:

Some of the recent weather events have made this a more urgent matter.

The new electric buses are estimated to cost around $25.5 million and will be funded mostly by a $20 million grant from the US Department of Transportation. We don’t yet know which electric bus company Metro will work with.

Colin Leyden, Texas director, Environmental Defense Fund, told Electrek:

Electric buses are ready to roll and Houstonians deserve a clean transit fleet that saves money and cuts climate pollution. As the impacts of climate change and air pollution mount, the science is clear that we need to curb transit emissions. A modern, fully electric fleet will be crucial for Houston METRO to meet that goal, and this is a good first step.

Electrek’s Take

It’s great that Houston’s Metro has a net zero goal of 2030, but it has a lot of work to do in 8.5 years to replace all those diesel buses with clean buses. And it’s got the extra challenge of the standalone Texas grid.

After the Big Freeze and summer blackouts due to heat, it sounds like Texans don’t have a whole lot of faith in their grid now. Metro board member Jim Robinson said to the Houston Chronicle, “If [the Electric Reliability Council of Texas] really had a worst case thing, you could be down for some time.”

Texas is a leader in wind, and increasingly in solar, but its grid needs a serious rethink — and quickly.

Read more:

Photo: “Houston Skyline” by Katie Haugland Bowen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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About the Author

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.