AUSTIN (KXAN) — Capital Metro is testing out its first electric battery-powered bus and for the next two weeks, the public can ride it for free.  

It’s powered just by plugging it in, and on a full charge can run between 100 and 150 miles. About a third of Cap Metro’s diesel buses run that distance on a daily basis.

While it looks like a regular bus, the electric bus isn’t as loud.

“The loudest thing you will hear on the electric bus is the air conditioning, literally the air coming through the bus is the loudest part of the bus. They are an extremely quiet vehicle, which makes it a great riding experience for our customers,” says Dottie Watkins, VP of Bus Operations at Capital Metro.

CapMetro will be testing three electric buses over the next few months. 

“A big part we want to learn from this demonstration is how long will they go with the Austin hills and the Austin heat. The air conditioning we know will draw down the batteries a little faster, so we want to get a good sense of what they can do,” says Watkins.

CapMetro has a proposal to its board to purchase 40 electric buses over the next 5 years. On average the transit agency purchases between 25 to 40 new buses each year to keep its fleet up to date.

The average cost of a battery electric bus is $800,000, which is $300,000 more than a diesel vehicle. And, in order to support a fleet of these buses, CapMetro has to change its infrastructure. 

“All of our bus facilities right now are built to support diesel buses, there is diesel fuel in the ground,
 Watkins says. “With battery electric buses, we’ll need to switch out to allow to charge multiple buses at one time.”

CapMetro will test the electric bus on multiple routes including MetroRapid. Riders can find where the electric bus is running by following CapMetro on social media.