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Proterra Proliferates: eBuses in Four States

July 24, 2012 in Electric Drive, EVs, Fleet Order by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Texas, Florida, South Carolina and More for California

EcoRide BE35 battery electric buses by Proterra are spreading from an initial trial with Foothill Transit in Southern California to fleets in Texas, Florida, South Carolina and California’s Central Valley.

StarMetro in Tallahassee has received one of its three Proterra buses, with which it will begin service in early 2013.

Attendant fast-charge systems from Proterra enable full service on real-world routes with zero vehicular emissions.

San Antonio’s Via Metropolitan Transit has taken delivery of three of new 35-foot Proterra buses, which it will operate as “The Arc.”

“We are hoping to have these things in service within the next six to eight weeks,” says Via’s Gary Glasscock. The Altairnano lithium-titanate battery buses will be charged using AeroVironment fast-charge equipment programmed by and purchased through Proterra, he told F&F – with all of their electricity derived via wind power through arrangement with San Antonio’s CPS Energy, aka City Public Service.

In Florida, “We have one bus in hand, one bus scheduled to be delivered in August, and another bus scheduled to be delivered in September,” Ralph Wilder of says Tallahassee’s StarMetro.

Following a period of “shadow service” for data-gathering and training, regular StarMetro passenger service is to commence in early 2013, he says.

In California, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District is applying a California Energy Commission grant for $2.56 million for the Proterra bus demonstration, part of CEC’s Electric Drive Strategic Plan administrated by Calstart.

The grant award includes two new EcoRide BE35 battery-electric buses for RTD’s operating fleet. Proterra says it’s “producing the automated fast-charging station for RTD’s Downtown Transit Center as a matching commitment to the CEC grant.”

RTD says that its only responsibilities are the installation costs for the charging station and the administration of the CEC grant. RTD anticipates charge station installation and bus delivery by the spring of 2013.

Proterra claims fundamental operational efficiency advantages.

Seneca, S.C. – about 40 miles from Proterra’s new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Greenville – will see 2013 deployment of four Proterra buses, with two charging stations.

The Seneca announcement follows word from the city last year that it would use funds from a $4.1 million in Federal Transit Administration TIGGER (Transit Investments in Greenhouse Gas and Emissions Reduction) money and local matching funds to buy the Proterra electrics.

“The city of Seneca will be the first in the nation to operate a fully-electric bus system and to do so on a ‘fare-free basis,’” Proterra says.

The buses will be operated by Clemson Area Transit – CATbus –serving both Seneca and Clemson University. “We could not be more proud,” CATbus GM Al Babinicz says in Proterra’s Seneca announcement.

According to Proterra, “Seneca’s current diesel bus fleet averages less than four miles per gallon; with current fuel prices averaging close to $4.00 per gallon, the running cost per mile for fuel alone is $1.05. Proterra EcoRide transit buses average 20 diesel-equivalent miles per gallon, or about $.18 per mile – a huge cost savings.”

The lightweight Proterra buses have drive motors by UQM Technologies (AMEX:UQM). Three earlier vehicles remain in operation with Foothill Transit in Los Angeles. As detailed when they were fielded in 2010, the EcoRide aka Ecoliner buses have lithium-titanate spinal oxide electrode batteries from Altairnano. They were deployed using a fast-charge system by AeroVironment for in-route charging and hence 100% electric operation for a full Foothill route (F&F, January 11 and August 9, 2010).

StarMetro in Tallahassee has received one of its three Proterra buses, and has every intention of making them stand out when they enter service early next year.

“Proterra continues to evaluate all technology with an eye toward continuous improvement to keep options on the table,” a spokeswoman told F&F. “The company also focuses heavily on creating its own proprietary systems, rather than relying largely on off-the-shelf technology from vendors,” she said.

Proterra’s 35-foot composite-body buses “have zero emissions, run virtually silent, and are 600% more fuel efficient than diesel buses,” the manufacturer says. “The company is holding to its model of conductive overhead charging in 10 minutes,” the spokeswoman says.

“Proterra’s fast-charging battery-electric buses take less than 10 minutes to fully charge and offer significant operational savings over traditional diesel or hybrid vehicles,” said Proterra CEO David Bennett.


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Source: Proterra and San Joaquin RTD releases, Fleets & Fuels interviews

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