UM students expect new electric buses in service this fall - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

UM students expect new electric buses in service this fall

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New busses will remove tons of pollution from the air (MTN News photo) New busses will remove tons of pollution from the air (MTN News photo)

University of Montana students say new electric buses coming to the campus this fall are expected to remove tons of carbon emissions from the Missoula air in the coming years.

It was about 18 months ago that Proterra brought of its 40-foot Catalyst Fast Charge buses to Missoula, showing Mountain Line leaders and the Associated Students of the University of Montana what was possible with a "plug-in bus".

ASUM was so impressed it went after funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the help from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. And later this year, UM will become the first college in the country to use all electric buses on campus.

"So we're scheduled to receive them late summer. The plan is to get them online for next school year," ASUM Office of Transportation Director Jordan Hess.

The two buses will replace the oldest existing buses in the U-DASH fleet. DEQ estimates the new vehicles will pull upwards of 1,400 tons of carbon emissions from the air.

"Over the life of vehicle it's almost a 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel that we won't be burning. So it's pretty monumental when you look at it that way," Hess said.

U-DASH managers say what makes the buses work here on campus is their frequent schedule, allowing regular re-charging stops.

"You know these buses charge on the route every hour. And so really you can run them 24-hours a day so it makes perfect sense for us. We've got such a wide range of service from early morning to late night," Hess explained.

"And so we can use the same vehicle for all of that service and really reduce our environmental impact, our noise impact, and save some money along the way," he added.

The buses, purchased with student money and financed with the grant, will supplement a system which already provided more than 400,000 complimentary rides to students, faculty and campus visitors last year alone. That's a lot of lungs to keep healthy.

"Any kind of positive impact we can have on air quality is welcome," Hess concluded.

Proterra leaders say "couldn't be happier" to have ASUM as a partner to showcase the zero emission approach to public transit. 

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