A $2.29 million federal grant means START can buy up to eight electric buses.
START Director Darren Brugmann called the grant an “exciting opportunity to utilize alternative fuel sources and actively engage in public transit that is environmentally sustainable.”
“This will be START’s first major step in pursuing alternative fuel sources, and we couldn’t be happier,” Brugmann said.
He thanked Wyoming’s congressional delegation, Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities, Energy Conservation Works, the Wyoming Department of Transportation, and town and county elected officials for their support.
A Federal Transit Administration grant program allows transit agencies to compete for $84.45 million in funds to lease or purchase low- or no-emissions vehicles. START partnered with battery-powered bus manufacturer Proterra to apply for the funds.
“We are committed to reducing emissions from the transportation sector and improving air quality in the Jackson Hole region, through the introduction of zero-emission electric buses to the START bus fleet,” START’s grant application said.
The electric buses will replace diesel ones and support community goals of ecosystem stewardship, according to START, by reducing fuel use, carbon emissions and automobile trips. To emphasize START’s commitment to alternative fuels, the START Board passed a resolution to have a 40 percent electric fleet by 2022.
Proterra’s electric buses log a 25.8 mpg gasoline equivalent, a vast increase over buses in START’s diesel fleet, which average 5.8 mpg, the grant application said.
“This great increase in efficiency will drastically reduce the energy consumption of the START fleet,” the application said.
Replacing eight diesel buses with electric ones could reduce the START fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 881 tons per year, the application said.
At about $800,000 each, the electric buses cost about twice as much as a $440,000 diesel bus, according to Brugmann. The grant covers about 80 percent of the costs, while local government will cost-share to cover about 20 percent.
Town public information officer Carl Pelletier said START is looking to partner with Proterra to purchase six to eight buses, but until START receives the grant contract from the government, it’s unclear exactly how many buses the transit agency can buy and what the next steps are.