MTA issues RFP for first of its kind electric bus depot on Gun Hill Road

image005 (1)
A rendering of the proposed electric bus depot planned for Gun Hill Road in the Bronx. The depot would be the first of its kind in the borough.
Rendering courtesy MTA

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released a request for proposals on Friday for the Bronx’s first electric bus charging facility on Gun Hill Road in the Baychester neighborhood, the Bronx Times has learned.

The plan is part of the MTA’s larger mission to transform its 5,800 buses to a zero-emissions fleet by 2040. The request for proposals (RFP) seeks to develop the 550,000-square-foot MTA-owned industrial land adjacent to the existing Gun Hill Road Bus Depot at 1910 Bartow Ave. The completed depot will be the first of its kind in the Bronx. The selected developer will fund the construction of the facility and pay rent towards MTA capital needs, supported by revenue that will be generated by the redevelopment of the under-utilized land, according to the RFP.

There had originally been plans in the works to develop the parcel into a 400,000-square-foot shopping center and housing complex called Baychester Square in early 2017, however that project was nixed by the City Council.

“This RFP is good for the residents of the Bronx, for New Yorkers, and for the MTA,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “This two-part strategy will leverage private developer funds and project management to deliver a new, modernized electric bus charging facility. Public Private Partnerships of this kind deliver smart planning solutions and save taxpayer money.”

The new electric bus charging facility will allow the MTA to accelerate the conversion of other MTA bus depots in the Bronx to zero-emissions. The MTA, which runs the city’s buses, currently has 15 all-electric buses, and plans to spend $1.1 billion to buy another 500 electric buses and retrofit eight bus depots with charging equipment as it moves to a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040. The program enables the MTA to acquire only electric buses beginning in 2029.

In NYC, approximately 75% of MTA bus depots are located in low- to moderate-income communities, and transit bus routes run disproportionately through these neighborhoods.

A request for proposals seeks to develop MTA-owned industrial land adjacent to the existing Gun Hill Road Bus Depot at 1910 Bartow Ave. Photo Pablo D. Castillo Jr.

“It’s very difficult to find a property of this size that meets this purpose,” an MTA source told the Bronx Times. The source said the depot will hold up to 220 buses and the construction should take about three years.

The MTA removes 17 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air per year by providing public transit services as an alternative to personal vehicle use, and a zero-emissions bus fleet would further reduce New Yorkers’ carbon footprint. Zero-emissions propulsion technology also results in quieter operations in addition to the benefits of zero tail-pipe emissions, which make it ideal for operating vehicles in densely populated areas such as New York City.

The full Gun Hill Road MTA property, which overlooks I-95, was acquired in the mid-1980s by condemnation, for the purpose of constructing a large bus depot serving the residents of the Bronx. A smaller bus depot was constructed, and the remaining property was leased as a golf driving range, as an interim use, and to a nonprofit operating little league fields. In 2012, the city Economic Development Corporation led an RFP of the site to generate capital funds and economic development, resulting in the closure of the golf driving range. The contract to sell the property proved unsuccessful and expired in 2019.

During this period, MTA began developing a strategy to convert its bus operations from diesel to electric power. A new RFP was developed whereby the selected site developer would fund the construction of an electric bus charging facility.

Additional RFP information, including site plans and potential massing diagrams, are available here.

Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes