Mountain Line will add two more buses to its growing fleet of electric vehicles thanks to a $1 million grant announced on Tuesday.
Awarded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the grant will bring the Missoula Urban Transportation District closer to eliminating tailpipe emissions from its fleet by 2035.
Jesse Dodson, chairman of the district’s board, said the award will grow the city’s fleet of electric buses to eight.
“Clean air is important to the health of everyone in our community,” said Dodson. “As Mountain Line continues converting its fleet to cleaner vehicles with DEQ’s support, it is taking action to protect our valley’s air quality long into the future.”
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.
The buses are manufactured by Proterra.
“I can’t think of a better way to put money designated for improving our environment than an investment in Missoula’s Mountain Line,” said Mayor John Engen. “Clean buses, providing essential transportation for any Missoulian at no cost to the passenger, has proven to be a great equalizer and, in some cases, a lifesaver for our low-income neighbors, friends and family members.”
DEQ Director Shaun McGrath said the agency awarded the grant under the new Montana Clean Transportation Program. The program will ultimately distribute the $12.6 million share Montana received from the national Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Settlement.
That came as a result of a 2016 lawsuit filed by the United States against Volkswagen after the car manufacturer attempted to defeat emission tests over a 7-year period.
“The Montana Clean Transportation Program was created to help lower emissions and improve air quality statewide,” said McGrath. “DEQ looks forward to continuing to support communities through grants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions for healthier air.”