Electric Bus Charging Stations

Electric buses charging

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) provides public transportation to more than 40,000 Rhode Island commuters daily. Buses are their primary mode of transportation, and they have many facilities throughout the state that administer operations. These facilities require both routine maintenance and forward-thinking upgrades to ensure the best service for their customers.

As the transportation sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, RIPTA is invested in reducing its carbon footprint as part of the State of Rhode Island’s Act on Climate, which committed to reducing state-wide carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

RIPTA bus ready to hookup and start charging

RIPTA has recently invested in upgrading its fleet to electric buses to replace the aging diesel fleet. These electric buses require fast and reliable charging stations that need significant infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.

Bus charging station concept drawing

Assessment and Coordination

Fuss & O’Neill worked with RIPTA to determine the optimal facilities for the electric buses and their charging stations. After the site selections were made, our team assessed the existing electrical infrastructure at each site and worked with National Grid (now Rhode Island Energy) to determine the optimal facility for the buses and chargers, as well as the existing electrical service impacts. We coordinated closely with the manufacturer and RIPTA to determine locations of equipment, day-to-day access for RIPTA personnel, and maintenance of the equipment.

View of the empty site before construction began
Aerial view of bus charging station during construction

Energy Management

Initially, three 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 pilot buses were leased by RIPTA and set up for charging at RIPTA’s existing maintenance facility in Providence. Each bus required a 60kW charging unit, for total of 180kW, which was a significant load on existing buildings. Once the facility was determined, Fuss & O’Neill designed the necessary electrical distribution system modifications to incorporate the Power Control Systems (PCS) and dispensers. We are currently working with RIPTA and Rhode Island Energy to address additional buses and subsequent electrical load, including potentially incorporating solar PV at these facilities to offset the electrical load.

Additionally, RIPTA used lessons learned from the leased electric buses for the purchase of New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE NG™ 40-foot battery-electric transit buses. When added to RIPTA’s existing hybrid diesel electric buses (that combine diesel with battery power), these all electric buses give RIPTA a fleet that consists of approximately 36% low- and zero-emission vehicles.

four buses charging

In-Line Charging Station

The New Flyer buses replace an equivalent number of diesel buses, which provides RIPTA with its first fully electric bus fleet. This fleet will serve the R-Line, which is RIPTA’s most frequently used and highest-ridership route, with rapid bus service that connects Cranston, Providence, and Pawtucket. A 1.5-acre RIPTA-owned property in Cranston at the southern end of the R-Line was selected as the location to develop the Northeast’s first in-line charging station.

This station location was selected to help revitalize the Washington Park neighborhood, lower emissions in an area that has been adversely affected by air pollution, and affirms RIPTA’s commitment towards achieving net-zero emissions.

Fuss & O’Neill worked with RIPTA from initial site selection and feasibility studies through construction oversight. We provided a comprehensive range of services included environmental due diligence, site assessment, remedial planning, civil design, geotechnical engineering, electrical engineering, and construction oversight.

Close up of RIPTA bus

$7.6 Million In-Line Charging Facility Highlights

  • Four 450kW ABB Heavy Vehicle Chargers with overhead pantographs.
  • 600kW standby natural gas generator to support the charging system during a power outage.
  • Lochinvar high-efficiency boilers to support a Viega snow melt system on the bus aisleway and driver plaza. Almost 25 miles of tubing was embedded in the site concrete to support the snow melt system, which is operated via sensors that monitor temperature and precipitation.
  • A 51-space parking lot to support parking for an adjacent business.
  • Technology and software supported by The Mobility House to allow RIPTA to remotely monitor and operate the charging units, including Automated Load Management to ensure that the total load from all chargers remains constant.
  • An 800 ft2 building to provide a modern comfort station for bus drivers, as well as to house mechanical, electrical, and IT infrastructure.
  • Landscaping and site furnishings.


A close up view of the bus charging

After initial due diligence, feasibility studies, and preparation of concept designs, Fuss & O’Neill worked with RIPTA to bid out the construction as a design-build project, which allowed RIPTA to proceed on an expedited schedule.

We assisted RIPTA in reviewing bids and selecting a design-build team. We then worked with RIPTA and the design-build team through the remainder of the design, permitting, and construction process, working as a cohesive team to complete the project.

Throughout the project, Fuss & O’Neill served as RIPTA’s engineer overseeing the completion of the project.

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