Construction is underway in Miami on the nation’s first all-electric transit center, set to charge and maintain a fleet of 100 battery electric buses.

The Miami-Dade County Dept. of Transportation and Public Works began construction on the South Dade Transit Operations Center (SDTOC) June 25. WSP is providing design ad construction administration services and a joint venture of NV2A Group and Dragados USA is constructing the two-phase, $246-million project.

WSP says the facility is the first of its kind in the U.S., being the first all-electric facility and the first to accommodate up to 100 articulated, zero-emission battery electric buses, or BEBs. 

The locally funded project is being constructed on a 20-acre, county-owned parcel at Biscayne Drive and SW 127 Avenue in South Dade, and will include solar power, rapid charging stations and related infrastructure, xeriscape landscaping and a reclaimed water system to mitigate environmental impacts of bush washing. 

Among design innovations, WSP says the facility will include retractable platforms installed to reach bus rooftops, where the buses’ batteries are charged. 

“When a bus backs in, maintenance staff can step directly onto and off of the roof, making their work safer and more efficient,” says Angel Andre Chavarria, senior vice president and alternative delivery project director at WSP.

Chavarria says the first phase is set for a summer 2025 completion and the second phase in summer 2026. He says the project includes provisions for the installation of solar panels to generate up to 750kW, but to charge 100 buses, the center will be outfitted with redundant power feeds from separate substations.

The center will serve as a component of Miami-Dade’s climate action strategy to operate a cleaner, more sustainably transit system, and better serve the mobility needs of the county’s fastest-growing area, which stretches from Homestead and Dadeland to Florida City. 

According to Miami-Dade County, electrification of its Metrobus fleet is advancing the county’s climate action strategy, part of which is the expansion of its fleet to include 100 new 60-ft articulated electric buses. Its existing facilities are unable to service, store, energize, operate and maintain those buses, it says, and coupled with the area’s growth, constitute the need for the SDTOC. 

The project comes on the heels of Miami-Dade’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, the city’s first, which awarded a $368-million project to OHLA USA in 2020 for 14 new bus stations, including one with a parking garage, rehabilitation of 32 existing bus stops and improvements to 46 intersections along the route. 

ENR reported on the BRT project in 2023, which is being constructed in a growing area of the county that officials say is expected to grow in population by 68% by 2040. Miami-Dade says the SDTOC will improve the efficiency of bus routes employing the BRT service.