The Associated Students of the University of Montana Transportation has placed an order for 2 Proterra 40-foot Catalyst Fast Charge buses and one semi-autonomous fast charger for its UDASH routes, according to a news release from the company.
This means that the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) Transportation is the first student-led transit agency to embrace electric buses. The two new Proterra buses will be replacing the diesel models currently in use.
“On behalf of everyone involved at ASUM, I’d like to express our enthusiasm for Proterra’s zero-emission electric buses,” stated Jordan Hess, ASUM Office of Transportation Director. “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. We hope this encourages — and challenges — other universities to seriously consider the economic and environmental benefits of zero-emission buses.”
The press release provides some background on the ASUM Transportation system:
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.
One of the main reasons that ASUM went with Proterra was, reportedly, that the total cost of ownership when going electric was lower than when staying with diesel buses. The purchase was financed through the state’s INTERCAP program, and ASUM also received assistance — a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant for $163,191 — from the US Environmental Protection Agency.