Electric bus manufacturer Proterra announced that it will begin supplying buses to campus locations nationwide as university systems, both urban and suburban, realize the economic viability and environmental necessity of sustainable transport.
Its first university customer, the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) Transportation, 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 United States, demonstrating that the next generation of transit market leaders will regard sustainable transport as a priority rather than a luxury.
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 percent of all trips to campus occur on ASUM’s UDASH service.
ASUM’s purchase of 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.