Foothill Transit has embraced change, and has the electric buses to prove it. Since 2010, the agency serving the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys in the Greater LA region has added 30 zero-emission vehicles to its fleet, and its Executive Board set a goal to go “all-electric by 2030.”
According to Doran Barnes, Foothill Transit’s Executive Director, the vehicles have proven reliable in service, traveling more than 1.3 million miles in the service area since 2010. The agency has a total of 373 buses, including 343 CNG, 16 “fast charge” and 14 “extended range” electric buses, and is responsible for 15 million passenger trips per year.
Foothill Transit has been able to take full advantage of the State’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Program (HVIP), purchasing 15 of its 30 Proterra electric buses with HVIP vouchers funded with Cap-and-Trade dollars.
Barnes points out that while riders care about getting from point A to point B, they also appreciate the public benefits of going electric. “It’s a matter of pride to the community and its leadership to have a high-profile project in the neighborhood that is also helping to clean the air.”
In a May 2016 press release announcing its goal to go all-electric in little more than a decade, the agency said its electric buses eliminate the same amount of emissions as 2,424 cars every year, and that since 2010, they have eliminated 2,616 tons of greenhouse gases and have helped the agency save 200,405 gallons of natural gas. “Most engines release harmful chemicals into the air like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds found to have a negative impact on public health, but Foothill Transit’s clean fleet – currently made up of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and electric buses – reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air. The impact will even be greater when the fleet is 100% electric.”
Proterra, which supplied the vehicles, has opened a West Coast vehicle manufacturing plant in the City of Industry, and has moved its corporate headquarters from Greenville, South Carolina to Burlingame, in large part to serve the rapidly growing e-bus market in California that is fueled by HVIP. While it retains its Greenville manufacturing facility for its east coast customers, it has added a battery system manufacturing plant to its Burlingame location.
Kent Leacock, Government Relations and Policy Director at Proterra, credits Barnes and his team for providing “invaluable input” as Proterra has evolved. “We were not long on transit experience when we started,” he says, adding that in large part “we are where we are today because of Foothill Transit.” Proterra currently has e-bus clients across the country, from Alaska to Hawaii to Texas and New England.
So the countdown to 2030 is on— only about 4,000 days to go!