A Lightning Systems' battery-electric converted bus. Photo: Lightning Systems

A Lightning Systems' battery-electric converted bus. Photo: Lightning Systems

Lightning Systems, a global developer of zero-emission solutions for commercial fleets, is partnering with the City of Boulder, Colo., and Via Mobility Services to repower diesel buses with battery-electric systems. The first demonstration vehicle will be on the road this summer and will give the bus more than 200 miles of all-electric range.

Via Mobility Services, a local nonprofit social enterprise, operates Boulder's HOP transit route, a high-frequency shuttle service serving Boulder hot spots like the University of Colorado campus and Downtown Boulder. This project will be the first step for the City of Boulder and Via in realizing their combined goal of converting the HOP fleet of 35-foot transit buses to zero-emission all-electric vehicles.

Repowering an existing diesel transit bus with the LightningElectric product will cost a third of the price of a new electric bus.

Repowering an existing diesel transit bus with the LightningElectric product will cost a third of the price of a new electric bus.

Upon the success of the first vehicle, additional HOP service buses may be converted, providing an efficient and cost-effective alternative to replacing the entire fleet with new electric buses. Repowering an existing diesel transit bus with the LightningElectric product will cost a third of the price of a new electric bus. In addition, there is a backlog of two years or more for new electric buses from other manufacturers, so the repowered buses will allow Via and the City of Boulder to quickly reach their goal of an all-electric fleet in an expedited timeframe. The city and Via staff plan to continue to transition the entire HOP fleet to zero-emission vehicles in the near-term.

“People in Boulder are very interested in reducing the carbon footprint in all that we do,” said Frank Bruno, CEO for Via Mobility Services. “Boulder is built on a strong value system for recycling, so why not recycle our buses? Recycle them and make buses out of buses. That’s the motivation we’ve had for doing this. We hope that, upon approval, this partnership with Lightning Systems will blow the market open for repowering old buses around the country, reduce emissions in local environments, and stabilize costs for the future.”

Via and the City of Boulder have a long-standing partnership and share a common goal. In February 2017, the City of Boulder and Via secured federal and state funding for the purchase of their first electric bus, along with charging infrastructure to serve the HOP transit route. Via’s 63rd Street facility has a large solar array and is in the process of installing battery storage and on-site generation capabilities.

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