SMART Adds First of Four Electric Busses to Serve Southeast Michigan

As a part of its continuing commitment to sustainability, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Detroit has introduced the first of four electric vehicles that will begin driving riders.
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The first of four electric busses SMART will deploy is now running routes. // Courtesy of SMART
The first of four electric busses SMART will deploy is now running routes. // Courtesy of SMART

As a part of its continuing commitment to sustainability, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Detroit has introduced the first of four electric vehicles that will begin driving riders.

The state-of-the-art electric vehicle, supported by DTE, will operate on a zero-emissions platform, and reduce air and noise pollution. The first vehicle will begin service along select routes as soon as Sept. 26, with the remaining vehicles to be in service by the end of October 2022.

“Sustainability is what brings us here today as we launch our new electric buses into service,” says Dwight Ferrell, general manager of SMART. “They not only represent a new, cleaner method for people to connect to where they need to go, but a new way for SMART to reduce our carbon footprint and help improve air quality.”

SMART has been working within the organization over the past several months providing extensive training to ensure that drivers are able to get the maximum use of the vehicle, and for maintenance staff to receive the training and time needed to be well-versed on how to maintain the new technology.

Additionally, SMART is in the process of providing first-responder training for communities along the routes that will be served by the electric buses. SMART will also monitor the vehicles’ performance to record and report the new bus’s operating efficiencies over traditional transit.

To enhance the customers’ overall experience, each bus is equipped with Wi-Fi, charging ports, and security cameras. New onboard digital signage providing real-time arrival information and messaging regarding service updates and promotions will be installed in the coming weeks.

“We know that technological advancements are moving quickly, and as batteries and charging advances are made, SMART is committed to incorporating environmentally friendly vehicles into our fleet, as well as maintaining a diversified fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles in a variety of sizes that will better match the demand of ridership throughout our service area,” says Ferrell.

In 2019, DTE and manufacturer Proterra teamed up with SMART to bring electric buses to southeastern Michigan and enhance the customer transit experience. Through this partnership, SMART looks to shift the narrative around public transit and change the mobility environment overall with smarter, more affordable solutions.

The new electric vehicles’ advantages are that they reduce emissions, improve air quality, are much quieter, lower operating and maintenance costs, and are made in the U.S. by some of the nation’s top designers and engineers.

Over the next few weeks, SMART will continue to rebrand the remaining three electric vehicles. SMART’s Oakland Terminal in Troy will serve as the main hub for electric vehicle charging and maintenance.

“As always, it’s all about the customer, and we want their experience to be more enjoyable and give them the freedom to move around the region while using smarter technology,” says Ferrell. “Sustainability is a key goal for the future of SMART and the region, and we are looking forward to connecting our community of customers with the new EV buses.”

To learn more about the future of SMART, click here.

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