ElectriCY’d: CyRide unveils new electric buses


Biong Biong

Chief Safety Officer Kevin Gries featured wearing the mini-bus mascot, which has a working horn, turn signals, break lights, headlights and high-beams, as CyRide’s electric bus ribbon cutting ceremony.

CyRide unveiled two new electric buses with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new buses put out zero emissions, ride quieter and have a range of roughly 263 miles on a full charge.

One of the buses made trips between City Hall and CyRide’s headquarters giving community members an opportunity to ride on one of the buses.

With two of the total planned 17 electric buses joining the fleet, Transit Director Barbara Neal said the new buses will run along the Green and Plum routes– routes that run near CyRide’s headquarters.

“As we move towards more of them [electric buses] we will have more experience; we’ll be able to understand how long they can last,” Neal said. “Right now, we think they can go about 260 miles on a charge, which is about a 10 to 12 hour day of service, but it will depend on capacity– how many people are on the bus– so there are factors that will weigh into how long they can stay out on route.”

Neal said the buses were in part funded by the No or Low Emissions Vehicle Program through a grant and an Iowa Volkswagen grant, and that the buses will begin charging around 9 p.m. and will charge overnight, taking six hours to reach a full charge.

With each eclectic bus price tagged at roughly $1 million, Mayor of Ames John Haila remarked on the partnership necessary to see the project into fruition.

“I can’t overstate the partnership between Iowa State, City of Ames, Student Government [and] our granting agencies that help provide funds for this,” Haila said. “These are over $1 million […] working together, we’re so much more powerful and [can] accomplish objectives.”

Haila said the implementation of the eclectic buses marks the first step taken in reducing emissions as a part of the Ames Climate Action Plan.

“I believe it sends a strong message to our community that we’re willing to invest in new technologies,” Haila said.

Mayor John Haila and CyRide Board of Trustees members Liz Jeffrey, Jacob Ludwig and Rachel Schnepf cutting the ribbon to celebrate CyRide’s new electric buses. (Biong Biong)

Neal said students have seemed excited about the electric buses.

“Students, I think, are most in touch with helping the environment and reducing greenhouse gasses, so I think the students are excited about this technology,” Neal said. “I hope that we can continue to move forward with reducing greenhouse gasses.”

CyRide Board of Trustees member Rachel Schnepf, a senior in computer engineering and a former Student Government senator, said she was proud to see the innovative solutions the CyRide team has come up with to make the buses last as long as they can with Iowa’s weather.

“Winters can stress the batteries and it can put some stress on them, but as long as they’re kept indoors at night, they should be overall fine,” Schnepf said. “I’m pretty sure they’re in a more heated environment, which the garages are, so they’ll be more safe. It’ll be a little difficult in the winter, but it will be fine.”

CyRide Board of Trustees member Jacob Ludwig, a senior double majoring in economics and political science and former president of Student Government, celebrated the acquisition of the electric buses.

“This is an awesome day,” Ludwig said. “This is, I think, the first of many steps that CyRide’s gonna take to be a leader in the clean energy space here in the community.”

Ludwig said with the electric buses now available, community members now have another tool at their disposal to practice living more sustainably.

“Public transit is already one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions for traveling, and so adding electric buses to the fleet is an even better way to continue reducing emissions for transit around the city,” Ludwig said.

President of the CyRide Board of Trustees Liz Jeffrey said she joined the board in 2017 and that acquiring electric buses was one of the things brought before the board.

“It definitely gives us a next step to […] meeting our climate goals,” Jeffrey said. “With the newer administration there is a push to reduce carbon emissions. Really, city of Ames has been kind of a forefront with our resource recovery plant, so it’s always been something that’s been important to the community to be environmentally conscious, and so this is one step in a whole plan to get us closer to some of those goals.”