Pittsburgh Regional Transit expects to spend $17.8 million over the next 22 months to install 18 stations to charge electric buses in East Liberty and Wilkinsburg.
A committee Thursday recommended approval of a $14.3 million general construction contract with Mosites Construction Co. and a $3.4 million deal with Wellington Power Corp. for electrical work. The full board will vote on the contracts next week.
Greg O’Hare, PRT’s assistant director of capital projects, said crews will install 14 regular charging stations and one overhead station at the regional garage in East Liberty. Three more overhead chargers will be installed at the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway station in Wilkinsburg.
The chargers will initially be used for five electric buses deployed as part of the Bus Rapid Transit system, which will be installed between Oakland and Downtown Pittsburgh beginning later this year. The buses and charging stations are being purchased separately from the main budget of the $291 million BRT project.
Those buses are part of the agency’s plan to improve service by creating separate lanes for buses to improve service reliability. Overall, the agency will continue to buy electric vehicles as part of its goal of taking all of its diesel vehicles off the road by 2045.
O’Hare said most of the chargers at the garage will plug into the vehicles for a full charge over several hours. The overhead pantographs will attach at the top of the buses to provide a fast boost to a bus during a layover so it has enough power to finish its route.
“The intent isn’t necessarily to get a full charge at the pantograph, but to get an extra charge during a layover to continue its route,” O’Hare said.
The agency is awaiting final approval of construction plans for the rapid transit project by the Federal Transit Administration, which has awarded a $99.5 million grant for the project. The project has been broken into two phases, the first beginning in Downtown this year, followed by Uptown and Oakland beginning in 2024.
When it is finished, buses will use exclusive lanes to travel inbound on Fifth Avenue and outbound on Forbes Avenue. They will also have priority at traffic lights to prevent buses from bunching together during rush-hour traffic.
Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at email@example.com.