List of Electric Buses Disadvantages Discussed

Electric Buses Disadvantages
Photo by Juan Encalada

Electric buses are said to be the future of public transportation. This is because they are cheaper to run than conventional buses and produce zero emissions.


However, before you switch to an electric bus, it’s important to know about electric buses disadvantages, too.

That way, you can make an informed decision about your fleet. And the planet-friendly benefits will take a backseat to what’s best for your bottom line.

Check out this list of electric buses disadvantages!

What Are Electric Buses?

Electric buses are battery-powered vehicles that use electricity to move. They are emissions-free, which means they don’t produce pollutants like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Electric buses also have the potential to be cheaper to operate than traditional diesel buses. It is so because you don’t have to purchase and store fuel.

Here are the electric buses disadvantages.

Electric Buses Disadvantages

Dependence on Charging Stations

Electric buses have a dependence on charging stations. The number of charging stations must meet the demand. This is for the bus to continue running throughout the day. In some cases, this can be difficult to maintain. 

Additionally, if there is an issue with the charging station, it can cause significant delays for the bus. It’s also important to note that electric buses typically have a short range before they need recharging or switching out their batteries. 

If an electric bus isn’t close enough to a charge station and runs out of power, it will end up stranded. Also, they are left unused until they are charged again. 

Battery Disposal

Another one of the electric buses disadvantages is battery disposal. Batteries for electric vehicles must be disposed of properly. The EPA has strict guidelines for the recycling and disposal of lead-acid batteries.

These are the most common type of batteries used in electric vehicles. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause health problems if not handled properly.

Improper disposal of lead-acid batteries can contaminate soil and water and lead to health problems in people who come into contact with it.

Heavy metals such as lead or mercury from recycled batteries or old electronics may also pollute air, land, and water. Batteries may also contain heavy metals.

Metals such as cadmium, nickel, or cobalt can harm the environment if they leak out during disposal.

For example, when an older car’s lead acid battery leaks during disposal, the contaminant seeps into groundwater and accumulates in plants, fish, animals, humans, and other living things. 

Cost of Batteries

Another one of electric buses disadvantages is the cost of their batteries. Battery prices depend on how much electricity a vehicle needs to produce per charge, but high-performance batteries tend to be expensive.

Electric bus manufacturers need to find ways to cut down on this cost. To make sure more affordable models can enter the marketplace.

Outdated Technology

Electric buses are powered by electricity from batteries or fuel cells. The problem with this technology is that it is constantly changing and can quickly become outdated.

This means electric bus companies must spend a lot of money on research and development to keep up with the latest technology. 

In addition, electric bus batteries are expensive and have a limited range. This makes them impractical for long-distance travel.

The Availability of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are buses’ most common energy source, and there are a few reasons for this. First, they’re relatively inexpensive. Second, they’re easy to find and extract.

And finally, they have a high energy density, meaning they can power a bus for a long time on a small amount of fuel. While it’s possible that these reasons could change over time, fossil fuels will likely be with us for a while. 

The Electricity Grid

One of the major electric buses disadvantages to its widespread adoption is our aging electrical grid. The National Academy of Sciences has found that we need to invest in an aggressive strategy now if we want it to be able to meet our future needs. At present, we’re not even keeping up with demand.

Limited Market Reach Due to High Battery Costs and Running Costs

Electric buses have a higher initial cost than diesel buses. The battery cost for an electric bus is high and needs to be regularly replaced. Electric buses have a shorter range than diesel buses, which limits their market reach.

Also, these buses require more maintenance than diesel buses. Electric buses are not as reliable as diesel buses in cold weather conditions.

Charging infrastructure for electric buses is still underdeveloped, which limits their market reach even further. Electric bus technology is still in its infancy and has yet to reach the reliability and affordability needed for widespread adoption.

Poor City Planning

The lack of sufficient charging infrastructure is why electric buses have not been widely adopted, especially in North America.

For an electric bus to be viable, there must be a reliable and consistent way to charge the bus. Unfortunately, many cities do not have the infrastructure to support electric buses.

This lack of infrastructure can lead to increased costs and downtime for bus operators and decreased passenger range and reliability.

For example, New York City would need to invest up to $1 billion into installing new infrastructure to transition its fleet of 12,000 buses away from diesel fuel.

It also needs nearly 30 times more charging stations than currently available. The same issues will likely persist without proper planning in other major urban centers worldwide. 

Lack of Adequate Range

Electric buses typically travel shorter distances than their fossil fuel counterparts and are better suited for city transit than long-distance commuter services. 

Unreliable Performance

Many factors can affect how long an electric bus can run before needing to recharge – weather conditions, passenger load, and topography are just some examples.

These variables make running electric buses on fixed routes difficult because these factors may change without warning depending on how much ridership fluctuates at any given time. 

Cost Cutting Makes Them More Dangerous

Electric buses have been advertised to save fuel and maintenance costs. However, many school districts have found that cost-cutting measures make them more dangerous.

For example, some districts have removed seat belts to save weight and increase capacity. Other districts have eliminated crossing guards, thinking that the buses will be able to stop in time. Unfortunately, these decisions have led to an increase in accidents and injuries.

Many school districts are reversing their cost-cutting policies and adding seat belts to their buses. They are also restoring crossings guards and taking other steps to improve safety.

Unfortunately, huge repair bills come with such complex new technology when things go wrong. As is often the case with high-tech equipment, mechanics can take days or weeks to diagnose and fix problems.

And even then, they may not know what caused the problem until long after it occurs because the technology is so new. 

Expensive to Maintain

One other electric buses disadvantages is that they are expensive to maintain. Maintaining electric vehicles requires specific training due to their complexity.

This means there’s often only one person at each garage who can service them properly—and they’re in high demand! 

These specialized mechanics come at a premium price tag: $200-$400 per hour! In addition, electric buses require a significant amount of downtime for recharging.

The typical bus takes two hours to recharge fully, meaning drivers must plan trips carefully or risk running out of power mid-route. 

Battery life varies from model to model, but the average bus has about 400 miles before needing another charge. To put this in perspective, if you drove ten miles daily, you would need to charge your battery four times weekly!

If you could not recharge your battery overnight (perhaps due to lack of access), you would need an additional five hours at least three times a week just to top up your power supply!

Here Are Few Advantages of Electric Buses

  • They’re quiet, so they don’t create noise pollution.
  • They have a smaller carbon footprint than diesel buses.
  • They’re more energy-efficient than diesel buses.
  • They have the potential to be powered by renewable energy sources.


There are electric buses disadvantages. They are expensive to purchase and maintain. They also require specialized infrastructure, which can be costly to install and operate.

Additionally, electric buses may not be as reliable as diesel buses, and the availability of charging stations may limit their range. 

However, electric buses offer several advantages over diesel buses, including lower emissions, lower operating costs, and quieter operation.

As public transit agencies look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, these buses could be an attractive option.

1 comment
  1. Like electric cars, electric buses look good on paper, except they currently have too many limitations; and in northern cities the cold will sap their strength and run times very significantly. I’m writing from Winnipeg, Canada where the normal average high in January is only minus-12 Celsius or 10 above zero Fahrenheit, and overnight lows often plunge to minus 30C.=minus 22F. So the batteries would have to provide not only power to the wheels but also heat for the passengers. I’d imagine warmer cities would face a type of reverse problem; i.e., air conditioning plus power. With the upcoming municipal election, one of the main candidates is proposing the purchase 600 electrics, but he’d better do all his homework; otherwise, the city could have to retain many of its old diesels just for reliability.

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