Pace piggybacks on Georgia e-bus order, approves funding for Homewood facility upgrade – Streetsblog Chicago


Pace’s Board of Directors approved two major initiatives at its March 16 meeting. The council agreed to piggyback on the Georgia State Electric Bus Purchase Agreement with Proterra Inc., the Burlingame, CaliforniaNew York-based electric bus manufacturer, allowing Pace to deliver buses to the North Division, its routes serve Waukegan and adjacent suburbs, faster than originally planned.

Pace also approved an intergovernmental agreement with Metra to fund improvements to the Pace portion of the Metra/Amtrak/Pace multimodal station in the southern suburb of Homewood. Metra’s board of directors approved the contract at a meeting held at the same time.

While the Homewood station deal passed without any issues, the vote on piggybacking electric buses was pushed back in public comment. Marcos Feldman, principal researcher for the transit labor equity think tank Jobs to Move America Illinois, argued that in the interests of ensuring job opportunities and economic benefits for marginalized communities, Pace should propose the project. But Pace officials responded that with current supply chain issues and growing demand for electric buses, it was in the transit agency’s best interest to seize the opportunity to place itself in front of the line. Assuming there are no unforeseen delays, Pace might be able to put 20 electric buses on the road as early as next winter.

Electric buses

The final version of Pace Management of the Innovation strategic plan calls on the agency to make its bus fleet emissions-free by 2040. Budget 2022 allocated $10 million to purchase six electric buses and install charging stations at the North Division garage, which would be an improvement significantly compared to the two diesel-electric buses used at Highland Park. At Pace’s September 2021 board meeting, then-executive director Rocky Donahue said the goal was to convert all Northern Division routes to electric buses by 2026. The five-year capital plan called for Pace to purchase 52 additional electric buses during this period.

Current Pace executive director Melissa Metzger said the contract is worth $26.5 million, with Pace paying $1,245,530 per bus and the rest of the money covering charging infrastructure. She said the price per bus includes a two-year full bus warranty and a five-year propulsion warranty.

According to Proterra Press Release, the 40-foot ZX5 Max buses will offer “more than 13 megawatt hours of battery storage energy.” Metzger said Pace will be able to tell when a bus has run out of power in time to recharge it.

A Proterra ZX5 bus.

She added that the buses will be delivered in the first or second quarter of 2023. “We will see the buses in 2023, hopefully, if there are no more parts shortages.”

Pace Board Chairman Richard Kwasneski said this pilot project will give the transit agency a chance to test the performance of electric vehicles in Chicagoland’s climate. He also thanked Metzger for closing the deal at relatively short notice.

In a statement, Proterra Chief Commercial Officer John Walsh said his company is “delighted to partner with Pace to bring our industry-leading fleet electrification solutions to the Chicagoland area. With our purpose-built vehicle platform and best-in-class lineup, we are excited to help drive the region’s transition to zero-emission electric transport.

Marcos Feldman said that Jobs for America tries to ensure that “taxpayer money [are] spent in a way that provides maximum benefit to all residents,” especially communities of color that often miss out on major development and infrastructure projects. While he said his organization appreciates Pace going all-electric, he feels that “by not using a competitive process to procure its first electric buses, Pace is missing a key opportunity to promote equity in employment opportunities and racial equity in the emerging electric vehicle industry. through your public purchases.

Feldman urged Pace not just to bid on the project, but to require bidders to comply with JTMA’s U.S. Jobs Plan, a “customizable, federally approved policy tool that creates good jobs and poverty.” equity in the public procurement process.” Within this framework, “bidders will be evaluated on the basis of their plans for the quality and location of jobs, the training and hiring of marginalized or disadvantaged workers, workers who have encountered barriers for those [well-paying] manufacturing jobs,” Feldman said. He noted that CTA has agreed to use the policy for three major purchasesand he encouraged Pace to follow suit.

Kwasneski defended piggybacking, saying that after speaking to several electric bus manufacturers during the November 2021 meeting American Public Transportation Association conference, he found that between supply chain issues and surging demand, it takes years for Pace to get electric buses unless they “queue up and get electric buses This year”.

Homewood Station Contract

The Metra Electric District line’s Homewood station also serves as the Amtrak station for the state-funded Illini and Saluki trains downstate from Carbondale, Illinois, as well as the city’s long-distance train from New Orleans to the Big Easy. Since MED trains are designed for high-level boarding, while Amtrak’s Superliner cars require ground-level platforms, each railroad has its own platform. An underpass connects the two platforms to the historic station and commuter car parks to the west of the tracks, and to the Pace transfer station to the east of the tracks.

The existing Pace Bus Transfer Station in Homewood. Photo: Igor Studenkov

The Pace facility currently has two boarding platforms, one closest to the runways and the other in the middle. a smaller one main house leads to the tunnel while providing greater protection from the elements than bus shelters. Although the facility has the capacity to serve at least three routes, it currently serves two, routes 356 and 359.

Metra and Amtrak are currently working together to renovate the station, adding wheelchair ramps to both sides of the platform, increasing existing elevators, making the west side station ADA compliant, and constructing the new parking lot to compensate for lost parking spaces on the west ramp. The Pace part will benefit from the most extensive renovations, with a new covered ramp and a new station with toilets for bus drivers. All bus stops will be moved to the expanded west platform, but this will have three bays, preserving overall capacity and ensuring riders won’t have to cross a bus lane to make transfers. Bus shelters will also be replaced.

According to the presentation shared at the meeting, the renovation of the station costs $16.8 million. Under the agreement, Pace will reimburse Metra $2.81 million for the renovation of bus facilities.

Kwasneski said he was happy to see “another good project” that would improve both Metra and Pace facilities and improve accessibility.


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