In May 2020 we received exciting news: Mountain Line was awarded TWO separate grants to purchase new electric buses, charging stations and infrastructure.
The first grant awarded was a $1 million Clean Transit Bus grant from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through funding from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Settlement. Mountain Line is the first recipient of funding from Montana’s share of this settlement, and we will be using the grant to purchase two new electric buses and charging stations.
The second award, announced just a day after the DEQ release, was a $3.6 million Low- or No-Emissions Bus Program grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is intended to reduce vehicle emissions and air pollution and received bipartisan support from both of Montana’s senators.
These new buses will make for a total of 12 electric vehicles on the road when they arrive, (two in the spring of 2021 and four in early 2022), bringing our fleet to over 40 percent all-electric. We added our first six electric buses to the fleet in 2019, after successfully competing for an earlier FTA Low- or No-Emissions grant.
A collaborative analysis between Mountain Line staff and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2019 found that a battery-electric bus reduces annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 77 percent and annual nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by 71 percent, compared to a diesel bus. The study considered the current mix of energy sources comprising the Montana electric grid, and Mountain Line staff are preparing for additional analysis of existing and projected vehicle needs against anticipated zero-emission vehicle technology and energy costs.
Reaching this milestone, with over one third of our fleet comprised of zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicles, distinguishes Mountain Line as a leader for clean transit in the United States. It also brings us that much closer to our goal of a zero-tailpipe-emissions fleet by 2035. Great news that benefits us all!