In October of 2021, CT Transit unveiled its first lithium-ion battery electric bus. The state government bus operator hoped to order up to 700 electric buses and replace its entire fleet with them. However, it seems like the transition has hit a significant speed bump after one of the new buses caught fire and was completely engulfed in flames as it sat in a bus depot. Now, CT Transit pulled the electric buses in its fleet from service.
Last Saturday morning, the local fire department responded to a CT Transit bus on fire in a depot in Hamden, Connecticut. According to WTNH, the local assistant fire chief stated that it took copious amounts of water. I hope I’m not the first person to tell you that water shouldn’t be the sole suppressant for a lithium-ion battery fire. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fire was far more intense than it should have been simply because the firefighters at the scene didn’t have the experience or equipment necessary to deal with a battery fire.
CT Transit has stated that the battery was the starting point of the fire, but it will have to conduct a full investigation with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police to determine precisely how the fire happened. Until the investigation is completed, every electric CT Transit bus will be removed from operation. The bus was unoccupied at the time of fire, but two transit workers were hospitalized as a precaution due to exposure to the battery blaze.
CT Transit currently owns 12 New Flyer XE40 Xcelsior CHARGE electric buses, including the one involved in the fire. Earlier this year, Connecticut allocated federal funds to acquire 22 more buses over the next 18 months. Hopefully, officials will use the fire to introduce better protocols and prevent losing anymore buses in the future.