by Photo courtesy of MTS

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board of Directors approved a new all-electric rapid bus route in the South Bay after holding a public hearing today. 

The newly approved Rapid 227 (Iris Rapid) route is a part of the region’s growing Bus Rapid Transit network that is slated to begin as early as this fall. According to MTS, the route will provide a first-of-its-kind battery-electric operated Rapid service in San Diego’s South Bay, linking the Otay Mesa Transit Center to neighborhoods along the Imperial Beach shores. 

Additionally, Rapid 227 will connect riders with the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley at the Iris Avenue Transit Center. The new electric buses will be stationed at the agency’s bus facility in Chula Vista, which is finalizing the construction of a new $8.5 million overhead gantry charging system capable of charging 24 battery-electric buses at a time. 

Agency officials say it will be expanded to add more charging capacity as MTS transition to an all-electric fleet in the coming years.

“The beginning of the region’s first electric Rapid route is a huge leap forward towards a greener future, environmental justice, sustainability, and better air quality,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and San Diego County Supervisor, District 4 said in a statement. “When Iris Rapid is in full operation, MTS will have 25 electric buses operating in its fleet, with hundreds more on the way. This will be a great milestone to reach as we transition to an all-zero emissions bus fleet by 2040.”

According to MTS, the electric rapid bus route includes 12 sixty-foot battery-electric buses provided by New Flyer of America. The company has already supplied more than 600  buses to MTS in the past 30 years, according to agency officials. 

MTS says the new buses are in various stages of production and will arrive in San Diego soon. The total cost of Rapid 227 is $37 million to purchase the 12 battery-electric buses and add the necessary infrastructure. 

Funding came from a mix of California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and Low Carbon Transit Operations Program grants, and MTS’s Capital Improvement Program. 

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