- Associated Press - Saturday, December 15, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The public transit agency serving the Twin Cities is advancing efforts to have all of its buses powered by electricity.

Metro Transit plans to buy more electric buses in the next few years and eventually phase out diesel buses, The Star Tribune reports . The plan has drawn support from environmentalists, labor unions and transit advocacy groups.

“It’s an aspirational goal, but we think this plan is set up to be fully successful,” Metro Transit official Brian Funk said during a meeting of the Metropolitan Council Transportation Committee.

The agency has already purchased eight 60-foot articulated electric buses for the C Line rapid bus service, which will link downtown Minneapolis with Brooklyn Center through the city’s north side. The C Line is expected to begin service next summer.

Metro Transit struck a $12.5 million deal in July with a transit bus manufacturer to assemble battery-powered buses and related charging equipment for the C Line.

Metro Transit also plans to install protective shields on 150 buses in January to protect its drivers following recent assaults. Funk said the acrylic shield can be opened or closed at the driver’s discretion, enabling drivers protect themselves without compromising their customer service.

“It makes (drivers) feel better and, in their experience, causes somebody who may want to do them harm to walk away,” Funk said.

A total of 189 assaults were reported through October of this year, up from 184 for all of last year. The incidents range from felony-level assaults to spitting, verbal harassment and threats.

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