The Long Beach Transit Board of Directors on Monday awarded an $11.7-million contract to Los Angeles-based BYD Motors Inc. to manufacture 10 battery-powered electric buses and charging systems.
"The Long Beach Transit Board made a historic decision today that will not only benefit our customers, but will also be a win for the community," Long Beach Transit chief executive Kenneth McDonald said in a statement.
The buses will be zero-emission, McDonald said, adding that they will be the "the cleanest bus we have offered to date" and on the "leading edge of technology in the industry."
The contract approved Monday -- bringing a competitive bidding process to a close -- includes funding for training and required equipment associated with the purchase of the buses, according to Long Beach Transit.
The money comes from a combination of federal, state and local funds, with the majority of funding coming from a federal grant, said Kevin Lee, a spokesman for Long Beach Transit.
The agency plans to operate the electric buses on the Passport route in downtown beginning in the fall of 2016. The deal includes options for additional bus purchases.
The new vehicles will be the first modern battery-powered electric buses in Long Beach Transit's 249-bus fleet, Lee said. The rest of the fleet, he said, is mostly made up of compressed natural gas and gasoline hybrid buses.
Over the next 10 years, Long Beach Transit expects to be at least 90% alternatively fueled, Lee said.
"In a city that is increasingly eco-conscious and multi-modal, and with a generation that is forgoing purchasing a car and opting for other travel modes, providing a zero-emission public transit bus travel option is a win for Long Beach, our residents and the surrounding communities we serve," he said.
Macy Neshati, vice president of sales for BYD Motors, said the new buses would be nonpolluting and would be quieter than other buses, providing "a great benefit to neighborhoods."
"It's an honor and a privilege to be working with Long Beach Transit," Neshati said. "They have a visionary objective. They're looking at the future and cleaner air and a better environment for our kids."