RTD's Electric Bus Fleet

Free MallRide Close Up

In January 2016, RTD purchased 36 battery-electric buses from BYD Motors to operate the 16th Street Free MallRide service. The Free MallRide stops at every intersection along the 1.2-mile-long mall from Union Station to Civic Center Station, with a total travel time of about 15 minutes. Shuttles run approximately every light cycle during rush hours, and every 3 to 15 minutes all other times. These electric buses constitute one of the largest zero-emission, battery-electric-powered fleets in the United States.

RTD incrementally deployed these electric buses between December 2016 and February 2018. As of March 2020, this fleet had traveled over 1.2 million revenue and non-revenue miles. Since the buses do not have combustion engines, they are very quiet. Therefore, RTD has equipped the vehicles with noise generators to alert nearby pedestrians of an oncoming bus.

The electric bus fleet is charged overnight at the RTD Platte Maintenance Facility in the RiNo District in Denver. RTD has 30 plug-in depot chargers that charge each bus in about 3.5 hours. The electricity for these chargers comes from Xcel Energy. In October 2019, Xcel introduced an electric vehicle (EV) electricity rate that RTD has been using since January 2020.

If you have any questions regarding RTD's electric bus fleet, please contact [email protected].

Quick Facts

  • Fleet Size: 36 Battery-Electric Buses
  • Vehicle Manufacturer: BYD Motors
  • Vehicle Length: 45 feet
  • Battery Size: 292 kWh
  • Average Monthly Miles per Vehicle: 1,000 miles
  • Total Cumulative Miles: 1.2 million miles
  • Number of Chargers: 30 chargers
  • Charger Manufacturer: BYD Motors
  • Charging Type: Plug-in Depot Charging
  • Charging Current: Alternating Current (AC)
  • Charger Power: 80 kW
  • Charging Time (20% to 100%): 3.5 hours
  • Noise Generator: Equipped with Noise Generator to Alert Pedestrians of Oncoming Vehicle

The next fleet of electric buses

RTD successfully applied for several grants to expand our electric bus fleet. The agency was awarded $2.6 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle program and $8.5 million from the VW Settlement program. This grant funding will allow RTD to purchase 17 40-foot battery-electric buses, as well as plug-in charging equipment and infrastructure, to be introduced in early 2023.

The vehicles will replace existing diesel buses that have been in service more than 13 years and have traveled an average of more than 600,000 miles under rigorous use. They will be placed into service from an RTD Bus Operations division in Aurora, assigned to some fixed routes within the buses’ operational capability and range limitations.

Operational data from the newest battery-electric buses will be used to help RTD make rational decisions about future bus deployments. The agency will also be developing a zero-emission bus strategy as part of Reimagine RTD.

Free MallRide at Civic Center Station with Capitol Building
Free Mall Ride Image