Proterra Profiles: Duluth Transit Authority

Since 2018, Proterra electric buses have been powering through the frigid temperatures of Duluth, Minnesota, operating in conditions as cold as –27°F in one of the coldest cities in the United States.

We sat down with Mark Ness, Director of Maintenance at the Duluth Transit Authority, to talk through how the agency’s seven Proterra buses have performed through recent cold weather and snowy conditions.

Q: How have your Proterra buses performed in the cold weather that you experience in Duluth, Minnesota?

Mark: Our Proterra electric buses are excellent in the snow, usually putting the diesel buses to shame. We often hear from our operators that they prefer driving the Proterra buses when it’s snowing out because of the power and performance compared with diesel.

Duluth Proterra Electric Bus Scaled
Duluth Transit Authority

Q: What is the terrain in Duluth and how are your Proterra buses equipped for handling this terrain?

Mark: Duluth is a hilly town with around 800 feet in elevation changes. The electric buses not only have the power equipped to handle the elevation, but our experience has been that they also regenerate about 30% of their energy through regenerative braking

Q: What tip would you give to a transit agency transitioning to battery-electric buses?

Mark: Telematics data is an important tool that agencies should review. By reviewing telematics data, it’s like being able to see a full movie instead of just a single photograph, and really capture the changes and improvements that can be made in order to achieve the best performance.