The above video highlights a new electric bus developed by Waseda University being tested in Japan. The bus runs 25km (15.5 miles) on one charge, takes 15 minutes to recharge, and the batteries cost approximately $50,000. The bus is estimated to reduce emissions by one third over a conventional bus.
In Providence, the Green Line LINK Trolley runs on a route of approximately 4.5 miles. Meaning a similar vehicle could do 3 one-way runs on a single charge. With charging stations at either end of the line, buses could take turns charging at the line termini.
Photo (cc) AaverageJoe
Meanwhile, in Québec City, the local transit agency runs the Écolobus (Site translated from French by Google). The Écolobus is a free downtown circulator service operated with electric buses. The vehicle’s maximum speed is 33km/h (20.5mph) and they have a service range of 100km (62 miles) or 12 hours. The buses take 8 hours to charge and seat 10 passengers, with room for 10 more to stand. The buses consume C$3.25 (~US$3.16) of electricity per day.
The Écolobus service is a bit different than the current LINK Trolley system RIPTA operates. The design of the bus with a large side door does not allow for fare collection, the bus driver is separated from the passengers in their own compartment. The buses are also smaller, but do the LINK Trolleys ever carry more than 20 people? If they were on a proper headway (say 7-12 minutes) crowds would remain small. The LINK service is a longer linear route, while the Québec City service is a shorter downtown circulator route.