The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority recently announced its plan to turn the District’s century-old Northern Bus Garage back into a home for the city’s electric public transportation vehicles. ()Photo by WMAT)

By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

On Jan. 25 the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority broke ground on a project to turn the District’s Northern Bus Garage back into what it started out as a century ago–a home for the city’s electric public transportation vehicles.

Metro is spending close to $500 million to build a bus garage for an all-electric, zero-emission fleet in the space that, in 1907, was home for the city’s electric trolley fleet. 

When completed, the site will mark another step toward the creation of an eco-friendly public transit system. Construction is expected to be completed by 2027.

“This isn’t going to be a transition facility with some diesel, we are going all in zero-emission. Metro is dedicated to being a green partner in the community. We are working every day to see how we can accelerate our program,” said Randy Clarke, general manager and CEO of Metro, at a Jan. 25 news  conference. 

“It’s very complex. It involves not only our vehicles, it involves our facilities and how we operate, but it also involves coordinating with our utility partners. None of those things are easy, but the team is working every day to make them happen.”

The project was partly funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). 

In 2021, Metro’s Board of Directors set a goal of transitioning into a 100 percent zero-emission bus fleet by 2045. This objective supports the aims of D.C.’s Clean Energy Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, which seeks to expel greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. 

The new Northern Bus Garage will retain its historic facade, but it will be LEED-certified and feature a retail space and a community room for local meetings. It will also have the capacity to manage up to 150 all-electric buses. 

Metro is planning a similar facelift for the Bladensburg Bus Garage in northeast D.C. and the Western Bus Garage in the upper northwest part of the city. 

“Working together with Metro, working with neighbors, I am just so happy that we have in our sights, in our future, a facility that will be clean and safe and lead to healthier outcomes for the neighbors who live here and for the people that go to work here each and every day,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at a press conference. 

“These are no small projects. They’re hard to get done– trust me– I’ve tried to move a few bus garages, so that is why I am so grateful to all of you for the hard work that you’ve done, and I am looking forward to putting our federal dollars to work.” 

Megan Sayles is a Report for America corps member.