City Desk

D.C.’s New Circulator Buses Could Look Like This


City buses typically have a life span of 12 years, and the oldest of the District's fleet of Circulator buses, purchased in 2003, are nearing their end. So the District Department of Transportation and other city official have begun looking at new buses to replace the aging ones. Will Handsfield, the transportation director at the Georgetown Business Improvement Business, who  is involved in the procurement process, says city officials will be considering at least three bus companies to replace the fleet.

On Wednesday, one of the buses under consideration—the ProTerra V2—drove around D.C., offering people the opportunity to go inside and see what their new public transit could look like.

The ProTerra V2 is an all-electric bus that's powered through an external charger. (Overhead chargers would be located throughout the city.) It takes 10 minutes to fully charge the bus, and each charge lasts about 40 minutes. A company representative said that although the buses are more expensive than the city's current diesel fuel Circulator buses, the city would save about $500,000 to $600,000 in fuel over the buses' lifetimes.

Depending on which exact ProTerra model the city would buy, the bus costs between about $800,000 and $900,000 a piece. They hold 40 people seated and 78 people standing. The entrances of the buses are wide enough to allow two people to enter and exit the bus side by side at the same time, a feature that would hopefully allow for shorter stop times at each bus stop.

Handsfield says the city is also looking to purchase additional buses for new Circulator routes, and that the first buses could be on the road as early as February.

Take a look at the ProTerra bus below:

ProTerra 3

Proterra 5



Proterra 7

Photos by Perry Stein

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  • Typical DC BS

    I wonder if the electrical charges last that long with the air conditioning or heat blasting? And, if the charges only last 40 minutes before you need to recharge them, that seems short to me?

    Would be really cool if the testing shows they will work!

  • Joel

    The busses are recharged at strategically located recharging stations along the route. Could be at a central hub or at Bus stop along the route. The buses are already in operation in several US cities

  • DCPolitics

    What if they get stuck in heavy traffic & lose their charge on a cold winter night? Sounds potentially nightmarish to me.