MISSOULA – The Associated Students of the University of Montana recently announced its decision to “go electric” with the purchase of zero-emission battery-electric buses. With approval by the Montana University System Board of Regents, the student-led transit agency will be the first in the U.S. to bring fast-charging electric buses to a University fleet.
Proterra is the only company that offers the fast-charging electric bus, and ASUM is its first university client to make a purchase. ASUM Transportation ordered two 40-foot Catalyst Fast Charge buses and a charging station for its campus routes. The buses are expected to arrive and enter into service in summer 2016.
“We take great pride in our decision to go electric,” said Jordan Hess, ASUM Office of Transportation director. “This innovate service aligns with student advocacy and reduces our carbon footprint. The buses will be purchased with student fee money and in the long run will offer the University substantial cost savings.”
Founded in 1999 by a student referendum, ASUM Transportation has seen its ridership grow to nearly 15,000 people per week. Last year alone it provided more than 400,000 complimentary rides to students, staff, faculty and visitors. Hess said ASUM’s purchase of zero-emission, battery-electric buses is a testament to its environmental stewardship and will help UM meet its goal of carbon neutrality.
According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the Proterra buses will immediately improve local air quality when they enter service, reducing emissions by 1,392 tons during their 12-year lifespan. DEQ also estimates that nearly 123,500 gallons of diesel fuel will not be burned as a result of the transition to the new technology.
ASUM aims to finance the buses through the state of Montana’s INTERCAP Loan Program. ASUM received a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is administered by the DEQ. The $163,191 grant aims to improve public health by reducing emissions and particulate matter.
“DEQ’s diesel emissions reduction program has worked with ASUM in the past,” said DEG Program Manager Brian Spangler. “This electric fleet initiative is by far the most aggressive transportation program we have seen in Montana.”
“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 UM 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.”
For more information about ASUM Transportation visit http://udash.org.