Starting this week, the Quad Cities becomes the first area in Illinois to offer electric-powered buses through its public transit system.
The Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District—commonly known as MetroLINK—is adding three electric battery-powered buses to its fleet, which the public can try out for free through demo rides beginning at the J.C. Penney parking lot at SouthPark Mall in Moline on Monday at 2 p.m.
At least initially, the buses will only operate on MetroLINK's 20 Blue route, which runs from the Quad City International Airport to downtown Moline, with a stop at SouthPark Mall.
The three 40-feet-long buses—funded largely through federal grants—will emit no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
MetroLINK says the fleet will save the agency money in the long term, not only because they require no gasoline, but also because the buses have 30% fewer parts than traditional buses, and do not require oil changes.
Each bus will also be equipped with a revamped wheelchair securement system, nine high-definition security cameras, and an "infotainment" system.
The buses are manufactured by Protera, a California-based automotive company that specializes in electric-powered buses.
MetroLINK plans to add five more electric buses to its fleet in 2019, funded through a $3.1 million federal grant awarded in April.