The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced the details of a multi-year analysis for the full electrification of the current CTA bus fleet. The study will serve as the first-ever roadmap for full-electrification of the bus fleet, facilities and supporting infrastructure by the year 2040.

Electrifying the CTA bus fleet is a complex and challenging effort, which includes much more than just replacing the more than 1,800 buses. To support and maintain an all-electric bus fleet of this size, other vital upgrades and capital investments must be made to facilities and other supporting infrastructure, including charging equipment. 

CTA’s existing bus fleet is housed at seven bus garages across the service region and serviced at a heavy maintenance facility on Chicago’s Far South Side, all of which will need to be substantially upgraded and retrofitted with charging infrastructure required to operate electric buses. According to the CTA, this support infrastructure is no small undertaking and requires the careful coordination of many interrelated investments and requires consistent state and federal funding support to achieve an ambitious target.  

Electric Bus Conversion TimelineCTA

The study, “Charging Forward: CTA Bus Electrification Planning Report,” summarizes the findings of key analyses and establishes a practical framework for CTA to advance towards full electrification. In addition, the study provides strategic recommendations on various facets of the electrification effort including which technologies to invest in, where to install charging infrastructure, how to sequence the electrification of garages and routes, how to ensure that the related facility upgrades are coordinated with other modernization needs to maximize cost effectiveness and overall system reliability, and outlining an achievable transition timeline for meeting the agency’s 2040 conversion goal.  

With the completion of this study, the CTA is now well-positioned to compete for funding, advocate for policies, and drive technology advances that will be essential to implement this plan. 

With the introduction of its first two all-electric buses in 2014, CTA became one of the first transit agencies in the country to run electric buses in revenue service, year-round and across all four seasons. Today, CTA has 11 electric buses in service, and 14 more that are being outfitted at our garages in preparation for entering revenue service later in 2022. To date, CTA has also secured more than $130 million in grant funding to continue expanding its electric bus fleet and expanding its charging infrastructure. 

Pantograph Charger at Navy PierCTA

Currently, the e-buses are operating on #66 Chicago, connecting the Austin neighborhood to the near West Side and Navy Pier. CTA aims to prioritize routes serving South and West side neighborhoods historically overburdened by air quality issues for early equitable e-bus deployment and aims to electrify routes serving the 95th Red Line hub in the next few years.

This study was made possible through the generous support of The Joyce Foundation, and in collaboration with Civic Consulting Alliance. The full report is available here.