CT: CTtransit pulls fleet of electric buses off the road after bus catches fire

CTtransit, in consultation with CTDOT, withdrew its 12 electric buses from circulation after one of the buses caught fire in Hamden on Saturday morning.

“CTtransit has retired the battery electric bus fleet out of caution,” CTtransit spokesman Josh Rickman said Tuesday.

On Saturday, the Hamden Fire Department responded to the CTtransit New Haven operations and maintenance facility on State Street around 7:30 a.m. for a burning CTtransit electric bus. The bus was destroyed by the fire, according to Connecticut State Police.

Two employees were inhaled by the smoke and two firefighters suffered exhaustion from the fire, state police said. All four were taken to local hospitals for treatment and released.

The Hamden Fire Department said it was difficult to put out the fire due to the type of battery on the bus.

“Lithium-ion battery fires are difficult to extinguish due to the thermochemical process which produces great heat and continually re-ignites,” the Hamden Fire Department wrote in a Facebook post after the fire.

This is the first battery-electric bus fire the department has experienced, Rickman said.

State police said the cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit.

Rickman said any possible redeployment of the fleet will be informed by the ongoing investigation into the fire.

The Hamden Electric Bus Garage was not fully equipped with the fire suppression upgrades described on the Department of Transport’s website on the project, according to Rickman. He said work on these upgrades is underway and should be complete in the fall.

The total financial loss from this fire is still under investigation. Each bus costs about $900,000 to replace, Rickman said.

According to the Department of Transportation, Connecticut introduced the electric bus initiative as a way to transition bus operations away from fossil fuels and reduce air pollution.

“Electric buses have an efficiency advantage over diesel buses when stopping because they can recoup lost kinetic energy through regenerative braking,” the Department for Transport said of the project. “They also have an advantage when accelerating from a standstill, as electric motors operate optimally over a wide range of speeds compared to diesel engines which must operate at higher rpms.”

The state legislature passed the Connecticut Clean Air Act in April, with measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement from Governor Ned Lamont last week.

Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for 37% of state emissions, according to the release. Transportation also accounts for 67% of emissions of nitrogen oxides, a component of smog.

Some of these provisions relate to increasing the number of electric vehicles through government programs, including the elimination of the purchase of diesel-powered buses after January 1, 2024, in favor of electric buses.

There is also a new requirement for new construction requiring that a certain percentage of parking spaces have ports or electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to Lamont’s release.

©2022 Hartford Courant. Visit current.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Comments are closed.