Rhode Island Public Transit Authority Unveils Electric Buses

Using Volkswagen Dieselgate settlement funds, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is testing out three 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses.

On Monday, RIPTA unveiled the leased buses at a press conference with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. In total, the state received $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 all-electric, zero-emission vehicles. This deployment marks the first step toward achieving this goal, says Proterra.

According to Proterra, the lease program 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 into service. Proterra’s buses will replace three aging diesel buses on current RIPTA transit routes, focusing on serving communities that suffer from poor air quality and high asthma rates.

“We are joining other forward-thinking transit authorities that are already employing electric bus technology,” says Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA. “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.”

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

“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,” adds Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. “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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