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Rhode Island Public Transit Authority leases Proterra electric buses

Rhode Island will use some of the US$14.4 million of VW funding to buy the Proterra buses

Proterra, a leading innovator in heavy-duty electric transportation, has announced that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is deploying three 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses.

RIPTA unveiled the buses at a press conference with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Rhode Island received US$14.4 million in VW funding and chose to invest the bulk of it in clean transit, with the intent to replace approximately 20 retiring diesel buses with new, all-electric zero-emission vehicles.

This deployment marks the first step toward achieving this goal.

The milestone represents one of the first deployments to use funding from the Volkswagen AG (VW) diesel emissions settlement. The lease programme provides RIPTA with an opportunity to evaluate the combined economic, environmental and performance benefits of deploying all-electric buses. The buses will be tested extensively and staff will be trained in the maintenance and charging of the vehicles before they are put in service.

“We are joining other forward-thinking transit authorities that are already employing electric bus technology,” said RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian. “We travel the state, and having a greener fleet is important to the neighborhoods we travel through – particularly urban areas with known air quality issues. Taking the bus rather than commuting alone in your car is good for the environment. Taking an electric bus is even better.”

This deployment reinforces RIPTA’s commitment to reducing emissions after nearly a decade of sustainable transit initiatives.

In 2010, RIPTA began making substantial investments in cleaner vehicles, efficient facilities, green building initiatives and service improvements.

Rhode Island currently has 73 hybrid buses and with the addition of zero-emission buses, low and zero-emission vehicles will comprise approximately 36% of the state’s bus fleet.

Proterra’s buses will replace three ageing diesel buses on current RIPTA transit routes, with a focus on serving communities that suffer from poor air quality and high asthma rates.

“We believe Rhode Island is one of the first states to use VW settlement funds to deploy battery-electric buses and has set an example for other states by committing the majority of its funds to zero-emission transit,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple.

“We’re proud to work with RIPTA to provide electric buses that will offer Rhode Island passengers – particularly those in areas that suffer the most from harmful diesel emissions – a quieter, more comfortable ride and a cleaner environment.”

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