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ST. LOUIS – Public transit is getting a little greener in the St. Louis area with the addition of 18 electric buses.

Officials from St. Louis City and County and St. Clair County, Illinois joined representatives of Bi-State Development and Metro Transit last week to welcome the buses to the fleet.

Metro estimates a savings of $400,000 in diesel fuel and another $125,000 in maintenance costs over the life of the buses, which is about 15 years.

The buses are being paid for through Federal Trade Administration grants (70-80%) and local sales tax revenue (20-30%). Another six electric buses are expected to be up and running by year’s end.

MetroBus runs 77 routes in the bi-state region.

New Flyer America produced 14 60-foot battery-powered buses for Metro, while GILLIG made four 40-foot buses and the additional six buses.

The 40-foot and 60-foot buses will be charged overnight at the Brentwood MetroBus facility. Ameren Missouri built a new substation next to that facility to improve capacity and modernize the system not just for Metro’s needs but for the entire area.

The 60-foot buses will be exclusive to the #70 Grand MetroBus route. It’s the company’s busiest route, carrying approximately 10% of all Metro customers every day. The buses manufactured by GILLIG will operate on various routes in St. Louis City and County.