Link Transit To Test New European Bus On Paratransit Service
Link Transit is testing a new electric bus on its door-to-door Link Plus service for disabled people.
The Karsan "eJEST" model is designed for in-town use with a top speed of 43 miles-per-hour and a range of 130 miles between charging stops.
Link Transit spokesperson Erik West says they want to find out what their drivers and riders think about the bus.
"We're going to run it in-service for a couple of weeks to see how it operates, if the drivers like it, if the folks who ride it approve of its design, and if it's comfortable, and if it meets their needs, and make sure it passes the smell test," said West.
The new bus has a much longer lifespan and costs much less to operate than current gas-powered models handling the Link Plus service.
The eJEST has a 12-year lifespan, compared to the current "cutaway" buses which typically last for five to seven years.
In addition, the "eJEST" is made in Germany and Turkey and is designed for maneuver through the narrow streets of European cities.
West says it's a much smaller vehicle than Americans are accustomed to seeing.
"It's a 10-passenger vehicle with one wheelchair spot," West said. "It's only 19 feet long, so if people remember the green trolleys, we ran for a while a number of years ago, it's even smaller than those."
West says the small, blue bus will probably get peoples' attention because it looks far different from anything Link Transit has on the road.
According to a news release from Link, the eJEST uses a BMW Li-ion 360V - 88 kWh battery system that can be fully charged in four hours using Level 2 charging, and in just over one hour with a DC Level 3 charger
Link says it's been a transit industry leader in transitioning to electric vehicles, and currently has 23 full-size electric buses in its fleet.
The transit also recently purchased three Ford e-Transit buses to add to their fleet of paratransit vehicles.
West said they don't need to make any additional purchases at the moment but are testing the "eJEST" because it became available and they're curious about how it could fit into the transit's operation.
The new bus should be traveling the streets of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee by early next week.