VIA rolls out electric buses

New buses in service along circular downtown route


VIA has introduced a new environmentally friendly addition to their bus fleet.

On Tuesday morning, three new electric buses were added to a downtown route.

Every run starts with a quick power up at the Robert Thompson Transit Station at the Alamodome.

"It plugs in that station just like you would recharge your cell phone in a way," said Jeffrey Arndt, interim CEO at VIA Transit.

The buses run solely on batteries, with the charger connection on top of the bus.

It only takes about five to 10 minutes to charge up for a run.

"The biggest benefit is it's completely, 100 percent clean energy," said Arndt.

Passengers said the first thing they noticed about the electric buses was the quiet ride.

"It's like riding in a golf cart. It's very smooth, you can talk in the bus, where as in diesel buses, it's kind of bumpy (and) very loud," said bus passenger Shelby Robertson.

Arndt said electric buses could be the wave of the future but only for short routes.

Right now, the biggest limitation with electric power vehicles is the range.

"This vehicle, for example, between charges, can go about 30 miles, and so if a bus is out there on a longer trip, you'd have to have recharging along the way," he said.

San Antonio is only the second city in the nation to try out electric buses.

They were paid for through a government grant. 

They are now running along the Red Street Car route through downtown.

For a list of recent stories Eileen Gonzales has done, click here.