One day after receiving a state grant to purchase two new electric buses, Mountain Line on Wednesday got word of additional funding – this time from the federal government – to add two more buses and bolster its electric infrastructure.
In two short days the Missoula Urban Transportation District has received $4.6 million to purchase four electric buses in all, bringing its fleet of electric coaches to 10. Mountain Line has a goal of achieving zero tailpipe emissions by 2035.
“It’s for two additional electric buses and charging stations, and we’re also able to use the funding for the construction or leasing of new facilities,” Mountain Line spokesperson Shanti Johnson said Wednesday. “With both of the awards, we’ll have four new electric buses. It’s going to be over 30% of our fleet.”
Mountain Line received the first grant on Tuesday from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Volkswagen settlement, which was reached after the carmaker was found cheating on emissions tests. That $1 million award will be used to purchase two new electric buses.
While that was good news, it got better on Wednesday when Sens. Steve Daines and John Tester announced $3.4 million in funding for Mountain Line from the Federal Transportation Administration.
“When we think about the long term, there’s going to be a change in the way transportation occurs across our country,” Daines told the Missoula Current. “Electric vehicles make a lot of sense when you look at fleets and buses. It makes a lot of sense now to move forward with alternative modes of fuel.”
Wednesday’s funding stems from the Low- or No-Emission Vehicle Program, which provides funding to state and local governments for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses.
It also funds the acquisition, construction and leasing of supporting facilities.
“Montanans take seriously our right to clean air, which is why our state constitution guarantees the right to a clean and healthful environment,” Tester said in a statement. “And it’s why I’m proud to have secured this funding for Missoula to purchase electric buses, which will not only help give folks an efficient way to get across Zootown, but also will reduce the number of cars on the road and keep our air clean for future generations.”
Mountain Line unveiled its first delivery of electric buses last July after receiving an order of six. Six charging stations and a new transformer were installed last year.
The old diesel buses averaged around 4 miles per gallon, though the new electric buses achieve 20 miles from an electric charge. It’s estimated that electric buses reduce carbon output by around 100,000 tons. With 10 electric buses on the road, Mountain Line will reduce its carbon output by 1 million tons.
The buses are manufactured by Proterra.
“We expect them the first quarter of 2021,” said Johnson. “It takes a little over a year to build and deliver a brand new bus. We announced this goal of zero tailpipe emissions by 2035 and we already have four more buses in the works.”