The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced details of a multi-year analysis for the full-electrification of one of the nation’s largest bus systems. The study will serve as the first-ever roadmap for full-electrification of CTA’s bus fleet, facilities, and supporting infrastructure by the year 2040.
“For nearly a decade, the CTA has been at the forefront of the shift to electric bus technology. As proud as I am of the progress we’ve made, we still have a long way to go,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “The unveiling of the ‘Charging Forward’ planning study helps set the course for our agency’s next destination—full-electrification by 2040— all while ensuring that equity, the environment, and the communities we serve are at the forefront of this next big endeavor.”
Electrifying the CTA bus fleet is a complex and challenging undertaking, which includes much more than just replacing its current fleet of more than 1,800 buses. To support and maintain an all-electric bus fleet of this size, other vital upgrades and capital investments must be made to facilities and other supporting infrastructure, including charging equipment.
CTA’s existing bus fleet is housed at seven bus garages across the service region and serviced at a heavy maintenance facility on Chicago’s Far South Side—all of which will need to be substantially upgraded and retrofitted with the charging infrastructure required to operate electric buses. This is no small undertaking and requires the careful coordination of many interrelated investments and requires consistent state and federal funding support to achieve an ambitious target.
“We’re excited to see one of our regional partners set a bold vision for cleaner air and a more resilient future in northeastern Illinois,” said Erin Aleman, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “The CTA has been a national leader in deploying electric vehicle technology and plans to prioritize efforts in historically disinvested communities support our regional goals. This is a critical undertaking toward a transportation system that serves everyone better.”
“We applaud CTA for being intentional about investing in environmentally beneficial technology that will make Chicago’s air healthier and improve the service experience for its riders,” said Joyce Foundation Environment Program Director Ed Miller. “We are proud to have supported this research and planning effort as CTA moves toward electrifying its bus fleet, including putting the agency in a strong position to tap federal infrastructure funds to support the transition.”
The study, “Charging Forward: CTA Bus Electrification Planning Report,” summarizes the findings of key analyses and establishes a practical framework for CTA to advance towards full electrification.
In addition, the study provides strategic recommendations on various facets of the electrification effort including:
- Which technologies to invest in;
- Where to install charging infrastructure;
- How to sequence the electrification of garages and routes;
- How to ensure that the related facility upgrades are coordinated with other modernization needs to maximize cost-effectiveness and overall system reliability; and
- Outlining an achievable transition timeline for meeting the agency’s 2040 conversion goal.
With the completion of this study, the CTA is now well-positioned to compete for funding, advocate for policies, and drive technology advances that will be essential to implementing this plan.