News & Politics

Your Guide to DC’s Fancy New Buses

The improvements aren’t just environmental.

Photograph courtesy of Metro.

Is your bus a ZEB? Probably not, at least for the moment: So far, there are only two of the zero-emission buses in WMATA’s entire fleet. Introduced in November, they currently operate along the W4 route between the Anacostia and Deanwood Metro stations. But these all-electric vehicles will eventually be everywhere, and Metro has committed to using only ZEBs by 2042. With ten more set to hit the road starting in early 2024, here’s a look at some of their features.


A Quieter Ride

The 60-foot articulated buses are powered by two large batteries in the rear compartment, as well as four smaller ones along the roof. These create a smoother bus ride than a typical combustion engine. Plus, the buses are significantly quieter both inside and out.


Easy Charging

Illustration courtesy of Metro.

In WMATA garages, rails along the vehicle’s roof connect to an automated charging system that descends from the ceiling. Buses can also charge at resting spots throughout the region. The ZEBs are expected to operate for ten to 12 hours on one charge.


Faster Entry

Photograph courtesy of Metro.

The new buses come with modernized fare boxes at both the front and back entrances, reducing the time it often takes to board.


Upgraded Interiors

Photograph courtesy of Metro.

Digital screens display upcoming stops, and there are USB ports at every seat so you can charge your devices.


Distinctive Graphics

Photograph courtesy of Metro.

How can you spot a ZEB? Look for the green plug graphic, along with “Zero Emission Electric Bus” on the side.

This article appears in the January 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Brooke Spach
Editorial Fellow