The Sustainability Honor Roll – Electric Buses For Universities and Colleges

by Robert Aguirre –


As university populations grow across the U.S., directors of transportation at these institutions are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and integrate sustainable university policies, while reducing costs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, around 20.5 million students attended American colleges and universities in 2016, which puts the student population (not to mention the numbers of professors, administrators, and staff!), on par with the population of New York City. And like NYC, which operates the world’s largest fleet of public buses (a whopping 4,373 vehicles!), campuses across the nation also run transportation systems for their students and faculty. For universities and colleges, the trajectory towards sustainable transportation models is not only fueled by widespread student interest in environmentally friendly practices, but also because “going green” can provide long-term cost savings.

Missoula and Fresno choose electric buses for their university fleets

Proterra’s high-performance electric buses enable a cost-effective transition to zero-emission transit for universities and colleges. As described by Scientific American, “college campuses are great test beds for environmental change.” Last year, Proterra joined the University of Montana’s freshman class for the company’s first university deployment of battery electric buses. The university’s decision to purchase the zero-emission buses was driven by the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) push to “go electric,” part of a wider initiative to meet the goal of university carbon neutrality.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality estimates the new 40-foot Proterra Catalyst® buses will make an immediate impact on Missoula’s air quality, reducing emissions by 1,392 tons during the vehicles’ 12-year lifespan, and saving approximately 123,500 gallons of diesel fuel. UM’s Director of Transportation Jordan Hess has also noted that the new electric buses on campus are much easier to maintain than their diesel equivalents and will bring in an estimated operational savings of $448,000 over their lifetime.

Next year, Proterra Catalyst buses will also replace the diesel buses in Fresno State’s Bulldog Express shuttle system. A California state grant will fund the all-electric university bus fleet to improve campus air quality and public health.

Proterra battery-electric vehicles: an easier and cheaper solution for campuses

Universities are choosing Proterra electric transit vehicles because our Catalyst buses offer best-in-class vehicle efficiency and unparalleled vehicle durability at lower operating costs than fossil-fuel combustion engines…from day one.   The operational savings from lower fuel and maintenance expenses can be put toward a vehicle or battery lease, to meet your university transit budget requirements.

Proterra buses offer a smart solution for clean and quiet campus transportation. The students who help spark these changes at their universities and colleges inevitably take their passion and sustainable practices into the workforce and wider world. We look forward to transitioning 25.5 million students to battery-electric transit at university campuses across the country, following the leadership of Missoula and Fresno.

If you’re interested in a cost-effective and sustainable model for your campus vehicles, contact us at [email protected].  We look forward to talking with you and providing a customized route analysis for Proterra electric buses, for your university or college campus.