Detroit transit system to add four new electric buses to its fleet

The new buses will be made by New Flyer, who city officials say provide the majority of Detroit’s diesel-powered buses.

The Detroit Department of Transportation has received a $6.9 million grant to add four new electric buses to its Detroit fleet. The money is funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that allows up to $108 billion in federal funding for public transportation.

The new units, built by New Flyer, will join the four Proterra-made EV buses that entered the DDOT fleet in May – pushing the total number of electric buses in the city to eight. The department is trialing green energy models as it works toward having a totally clean fleet.

“It’s as if you’re riding in a 40-foot go-kart.” — Mikel Oglesby, DDOT

Mikel Oglesby is the executive director of transit for the City of Detroit. He says now that funding is secured, the next step is working with New Flyer on bringing the new buses to city streets.

“Typically it takes 12 months to bring any vehicle onboard,” says Oglesby. “But since these are specialized, we have to sit with them and see how quickly we could get them on – so right now we don’t have a set date.”

Oglesby says the four electrified buses currently in the city’s fleet have performed comparably to their traditional gas-powered counterparts.

Listen: The City of Detroit expands its electric fleet.


“The performance of the vehicles are similar,” says Oglesby. “The one major difference is it’s quiet. It’s as if you’re riding in a 40-foot go-kart.”

He says the electric buses are so quiet that the air conditioning can be heard over the motor.

DDOT is also interested in sampling hydrogen powered buses. Oglesby says the City of Detroit is exploring options to do so, after a grant proposal to trial the models was declined over the summer.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.