The Anaheim Transportation Network wants to be one of the first transit agencies in California to go all-electric with its bus fleet. It’s already halfway there and will be placing an order for 25 more electric buses this year, pending the initial allocation of funding from the California Transportation Commission, said Diana Kotler, ATN’s executive director, in an interview. When those are delivered, about 90% of its fleet will be electric, she said.
ATN serves the city of Anaheim and the adjoining cities of Buena Park, Garden Grove and Orange in Southern California. The transit system has returned to pre-pandemic ridership levels, an ATN spokesperson said in an email.
Just 20% of ATN’s ridership comes from local communities, Kotler said. The remainder of its passengers are visitors traveling among the area’s many entertainment, resort and business venues. While nearly 70% of the agency’s revenue comes from passenger fares, Kotler said, ATN provides fare-free rides to those employed by local businesses.
Anaheim is home to Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park. It’s where the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and the Los Angeles Angels baseball team play their home games. The Anaheim Convention Center will host 150 events and meetings this year. Hotels and restaurants abound, and the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center serves Amtrak and Metrolink commuter trains along with local and intercity bus lines.
“Our initial purpose for the ATN was environmental mitigation.”
Executive Director, Anaheim Transportation Network
Ridership peaks in the morning, from about 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and again in the evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a third peak after 10 p.m. as the parks close, Kotler explained.
ATN formed in 1996 to begin public transit planning efforts for the City of Anaheim, according to the spokesperson. In 2002, the transit agency launched Anaheim Regional Transportation, its first service.
“Our initial purpose for the ATN was environmental mitigation,” Kotler said. Tourism boomed – reaching a new record in 2004 – in the wake of a $5 billion renovation of the Anaheim Resort District, which included the opening of California Adventure Park in 2001 and a $177 million expansion of the convention center. New, more pedestrian-friendly landscaping came along with the area’s redevelopment.
ART launched with 12 traditional buses and 10 electric buses from EBUS, a Southern California company. “Then we began to grow organically,” Kotler said. Today ART operates 20 routes with 82 buses.
In 2019, ATN ordered 40 electric buses, including 30-, 40- and 60-foot vehicles, from BYD, an electric vehicle manufacturer based in China. It manufacturers buses for the U.S. market at a plant in Lancaster, California. Deliveries began in 2021 and were completed the following year, Kotler said.
But the agency soon realized that it needed help designing and installing the necessary charging infrastructure to keep those electric buses running. ATN and bp pulse, the electric vehicle charging business of BP, won a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission for charging stations, battery storage systems and microgrid controllers. In addition, through bp pulse, ATN signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for 100% renewable energy to supply 50 EV chargers.
Kotler explained that this partnership helps provide “the capital that we need for the installation of all this infrastructure to support charging management of this entire fleet.” She added, “At the same time, we can finance that infrastructure through the power purchase agreement.”
Construction is underway on a 545-kW solar canopy and charging stations for 46 electric buses, which Kotler said should be completed by the end of this year. A second facility, to follow, will handle maintenance and bus-washing along with more chargers as the electric fleet grows.
ART began a new on-demand service in January between John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, and the greater Anaheim region. The app-based service uses electric van-sized vehicles from GreenPower, said Kotler.