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UM launches first campus electric bus in US - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

UM launches first campus electric bus in US

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Dennis Bragg photo. Dennis Bragg photo.
MISSOULA -

Four years after first discussing the idea, and two years after seeing the demonstration of a working bus, the Associated Students of the University of Montana have taken delivery of their high-tech electric bus which becomes part of the UDASH fleet. 

The Proterra bus features a 200-pound motor that produces more power than the 2,000-pound diesels in the other buses, and technology from the aerospace industry.

It will be able to regularly power up on its campus loop route, using a "fast charge" system that revives the batteries in just 10 minutes, three times as fast as the vaunted Tesla electric cars. 

"We're incredibly excited to be putting this technology directly in the hands of students," said Proterra President and CEO Ryan Popple. "As was previously mentioned, these students will be able to go on to other transit systems and understand how to strategically deploy these assets, maintain them, drive them. And this type of technology, this is being studied and deployed by the largest transit agencies in the world, not just in the US." 

The new bus will supplement the existing UDASH fleet, which is already carrying thousands of students to their destinations every month. ASUM leaders says it's part of the groups efforts looking to the future.

"Projects like the solar parking project that we are hopeful about partnering with our administration, perhaps even our foundation on," said ASUM President Sam Forstag. "Projects that make our campus and our country more sustainable, make the world a better place for us and eventually the students that will come to follow." 

UM President Royce Engstrom said the electric bus is just another example of the leadership shown by the students. 

"This is an historic moment for ASUM," Engstrom said. "The dedication of this bus, as others have said, ASUM becomes the first university, the first student government to have this kind of electric bus in its fleet. I couldn't be prouder of the initiative that you all have taken to make this happen." 

And since this is Homecoming Weekend, it's good to know even Monte is "juiced" about the new bus. 

The bus is the first of two that will eventually operate at UM. Montana Department of Environmental Quality estimates the Proterra buses will reduce local emissions by nearly 1,400 tons over the 12-year life of the coaches, with over 123,000 gallons of diesel that won't be burned.

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