SMART acquires its first electric buses

Officials with SMART say the buses are the first step toward the transit system operating a cleaner fleet.

A crew stands in front of one of the new Proterra SMART Electric Buses in September 2022.

A crew stands in front of one of the new Proterra SMART Electric Buses in September 2022.

SMART is putting its first group of electric buses into service. The four Proterra-made units were purchased using government grant funding for low and no emission transit vehicles.

Dwight Ferrell is the general manager at SMART. He says it’s the first step in the service working toward a cleaner fleet.

“We’re also about to embark upon a study to determine what is the best alternative fuel vehicle for this region and for SMART.” — Dwight Ferrell, SMART.

A look inside SMART’s Proterra electric bus.

“We have a plan right now to purchase some more electric vehicles,” says Ferrell, “but we’re also about to embark upon a study to determine what is the best alternative fuel vehicle for this region and for SMART.”

Ferrell says potential options for SMART could include hybrid and hydrogen-powered buses. The approach of trying multiple options is similar to what DDOT is currently carrying out – having added four Proterra and four New Flyer electric buses this year.

Ferrell says the electric technology does come with a learning curve.

“We spent a lot of time and effort making sure that the mechanics who are used to working on diesel vehicles are prepared to work on this vehicle,” says Ferrell. “Same thing with the people who operate it, because it’s not the same.”

One difference with electric buses is that they’re quiet — the motor doesn’t make any noise. Ferrell says SMART will be working on a community outreach program for the visually impaired, who may rely on vehicles making sound.

Photos by Alex McLenon/WDET.

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Author

  • 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.