The San José, California, City Council approved the purchase of ten Proterra Catalyst E2 battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure for use at the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC), Silicon Valley-based electric bus manufacturer announced on Tuesday.
The Council selected Proterra as SJC’s battery-electric bus provider citing the company’s sustainability, performance and operational cost-savings excellence. This purchase marks Proterra’s first airport electric bus deployment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Scheduled to be placed in service in late 2018, the buses will be designed and built in California at Proterra’s Los Angeles County manufacturing facility.
“The addition of this all-electric bus fleet reflects SJC’s continued commitment to delivering a world-class passenger experience and advancing our community’s collective sustainability goals,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. “These electric buses can help us significantly reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and represent a step towards our aspiration that an electric engine power every shuttle and bus on San Jose’s streets.”
With 12 million passengers annually, SJC currently provides on-site shuttle buses to transport passengers and luggage among the airport’s short- and long-term parking lots, consolidated rental car garage and terminals, with a fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. Funded in part by a $3.8 million zero-emissions vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the new Proterra battery-electric buses will replace these older CNG buses, resulting in the elimination 3.1 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions over the lifetime of these vehicles.
Since the Proterra electric buses have no combustion engine, riders will enjoy a quieter, smoother, exhaust-free ride. In addition to traveler benefits, the operational cost of electricity, at $.19/mile, is substantially lower than diesel, at $.84/mile. Combining this with greatly improved vehicle efficiency, at 21 MPG equivalent, vs. 5 MPG for their current CNG buses and reduced vehicle maintenance costs will result in an estimated savings of about $4 million during the 12-year lifetime of these ten new Proterra buses.
“This purchase builds upon initiatives SJC has put in place to address the concerns and interests of the community and the environment,” said Director of Aviation John Aitken. These include recycling and composting programs supporting a zero waste commitment by 2022, a 1MW, 3.4-acre solar array powering the airport’s rental car garage and a shift to airside electric service vehicles reducing emissions from operations. Complementing these efforts, SJC’s Terminal B received a Silver LEED certification—one of the first airports in the U.S. to receive the honor—for its innovative use of building materials to reduce energy use.
“As the community synonymous with innovation, Silicon Valley is the breeding ground for technologies that continue to change the way we live, work and play. SJC’s pioneering vision to transition their fossil fuel fleet to a zero-emission fleet underscores the area’s spirit of innovation and matches Proterra’s goal of providing clean, quiet transportation to all,” said Popple.
About the FAA Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle Grant
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot Program was created in 2012 to improve airport air quality and facilitates use of zero emissions technologies at airports. Grants are awarded for up to 50 percent of the cost of zero emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure.