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Mountain Line’s electric buses keep running despite the cold

Mountain Line electric bus
Posted at 11:28 AM, Jan 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-21 13:28:39-05

Phone, camera, and car batteries drain faster during cold weather. But what about Mountain Line’s battery-powered electric buses, which may be someone’s main method of transportation?

The buses are housed and charged in a garage overnight so that when temperatures drop into the negatives they won’t freeze up.

However, bus batteries are affected by sub-freezing temperatures so Mountain Line has more frequent bus rotations by bringing in lower vehicles and sending out charged ones.

Mountain Line spokeswoman Olga Kreimer said in an email to MTN News: "Our electric buses do experience a 30-40% reduction in range when the temperature drops so low (depending on the specific bus model; we have three in use), but since electric buses are built into our systems after years of running them, there's virtually no effect on normal operations from battery depletion, as buses just get swapped out more frequently as needed. When it's below 0 degrees, operators only kneel the buses on request, since the airbags can run into issues at that temperature—so we try to minimize the risk of that happening and taking a bus out of service.

The buses are equipped with heaters for wintertime use but drivers still wear layers since they are frequently letting cold air in.

Mountain Line also accounts for heavy snow accumulation on the roads and plans routes using the most consistently plowed streets. The transit service also has backup routes just in case of an unexpected diversion.