Sustainability

First U.S. student-led transit agency orders Proterra electric buses

Posted on February 2, 2016

Proterra, provider of zero-emission, battery-electric buses, today announced that it will begin supplying buses to campus locations nationwide. Photo: Proterra
Proterra, provider of zero-emission, battery-electric buses, today announced that it will begin supplying buses to campus locations nationwide. Photo: Proterra

Proterra, provider of zero-emission, battery-electric buses, today announced that it will begin supplying buses to urban and suburban university systems nationwide, with its first university customer being the student-led Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) Transportation.

The ASUM has ordered two Proterra 40-foot Catalyst Fast Charge buses and one semi-autonomous fast charger for its UDASH routes. This procurement marks a new era for ASUM as it prioritizes electric vehicle mass transit and begins to replace its diesel vehicles with Proterra's state-of-the-art technology. Notably, ASUM is one of a handful of student-led transit agencies in the U.S., demonstrating that the next generation of transit market leaders will regard sustainable transport as a priority rather than a luxury.

"As part of our ongoing effort to innovate service, align with student advocacy and reduce our carbon footprint, we take great pride in our decision to go electric," said Jordan Hess, ASUM Office of Transportation Director. "We hope this encourages and challenges — other universities to seriously consider the economic and environmental benefits of zero-emission buses."

Founded in 1999 by a student referendum, ASUM Transportation has a unique history of fostering student governance and tackling critical issues to ensure a safe and efficient transit experience for the university's population. Since its inception, ASUM's weekly ridership has grown to nearly 15,000; last year alone it provided more than 400,000 complimentary rides to students, faculty and visitors and 14% of all trips to campus occur on ASUM's UDASH service.

ASUM's purchase of zero-emission, battery-electric buses is a testament to its community leadership and environmental stewardship and will help the UM meet its goals of carbon neutrality by 2020. When the Proterra buses enter service in September 2016, ASUM Transportation expects them to immediately improve local air quality, reducing emission by 1,392 tons over their 12-year lifespan.

Proterra's Total Cost of Ownership was a major selling point for ASUM, given the transit agency's size and limited resources. In addition to financing the buses through the state of Montana's INTERCAP program, ASUM received a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $163,191, which aims to improve public health through reducing emissions and particulate matter.

"Bringing more zero-emission buses to university campuses around the U.S. will be an integral part of Proterra's next stage of growth, and we couldn't be happier to announce ASUM as our first university customer," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. "Millennials are driving less and seeking out transit more. With this increase in demand, our mission is to guarantee that younger riders have clean, quiet, emission-free public transportation. Proterra is taking state-of-the-art EV technology and deploying it into the most accessible transportation asset in the country."

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