Understanding fundamentals of electric transit vehicle performance
This year, typically silent electric transit vehicles are creating quite a buzz, especially as the Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill works its way through Congress.
Public transit is considered environmentally green because transit vehicles typically replace tens of thousands of cars, and use cleaner energy sources. The White House’s American Jobs Plan calls for an estimated $25 billion investment for electric transit buses, $15 billion for charging stations, and $20 billion to convert 20% of U.S. school buses to electric versions. In its transportation fact sheet, the Administration reported that the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third that of the Chinese EV market. And in 2020, China had approximately 800,000 public charging points, compared to just 100,000 in the U.S.
Separately, the Environmental Protection Agency cites transportation as largest current source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Transportation sector electrification is widely viewed as one of the best strategies for significantly reducing GHG emissions.
While Asia and Europe lead the way when it comes to electrifying transit bus fleets, the electrification of U.S. public transit fleets is in the planning or pilot phase in many state and local transportation agencies. Currently, many agencies have put plans in place to be carbon neutral, with targets set for 2040 or sooner.
Beyond its sustainable benefits, electric vehicles challenge transit agencies to rethink bus service planning, consider new fuel management paradigms, how to scale from 20 to 2,000 EV buses, and how best to build out the necessary infrastructure support to maintain a highly reliable public transit service.
Conduent Transportation is well-positioned to help, working closely with several agency clients and EV industry suppliers to develop comprehensive solutions to address agency needs for:
- Real-time state of charge and range management insights. Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) principles, Conduent can collect state of charge information from a bus or third-party cloud service. By tracking battery levels, we can improve service reliability and reduce range anxiety,* alerting dispatch and operators in advance of a problem. *Range anxiety is a fear of being stuck because the battery ran out before you could charge it.
- Vehicle work assignments. Battery usage data informs when and where buses can efficiently provide service, and prioritize overnight charging to reduce energy costs. Operationalizing this data, Conduent’s Yard Manager can be used to automate vehicle selection for pull-out planning.
- Planning information and analytics. Operator behaviors such as rapid acceleration and hard braking, along with weather (temperature) and maintenance have an impact on battery performance. Analytics turns collected data into meaningful insights that help both dispatch teams and drivers enroute, and can also enable longer term corrective actions to improve battery life.
- Lifecycle support of EVs and associated infrastructure. Transit agencies will need to monitor EV health, especially state of charge information to optimize bus routes and energy use.
The insights gleaned from EV transit operations will help agencies streamline routes and lower energy costs. Leveraging our unique capabilities to pull disparate information from multiple sources for measurement and tracking of transit vehicle performance will be crucial to conserving energy and optimizing EV transit bus performance in the future.