MISSOULA – Leaders of Missoula’s Mountain Line transit system say they’re ready to move into the era of electric buses, showing off the first designs Thursday of the new coaches that will start service later this year.
Mountain Line staff, community leaders and public transit supports gathered at the downtown Missoula transit center Thursday to celebrate the success of the “Zero Fare” program, which is opening the door for the city’s first electric buses.
Several years after seeing a first demonstration of the electric coaches, Mountain Line will follow the University of Montana in adding six of the new coaches.
The buses are being paid for through a “Low-No Emissions” grant from the federal government. Speakers noted that the financial support and cooperation of business and local government on the “no fare” operation of the buses helped secure the grant which is seen as critical for Missoula’s future.
“Shifting to zero-emission buses means our community’s health will benefit from less local exposure to carcinogenic diesel exhaust,” said Ronni Flannery with the American Lung Association. “And we, locally, contribute to reducing dependence on harmful fossil fuels.”
“Zero to Electric will will substantially increase Mountain Line’s benefit to our local airshed and decrease our greenhouse gas emissions which is always a benefit,” said Amy Cilimburg with the Missoula Uerban Transportation District.
“These electric buses are a big deal,” added Missoula Mayor John Engen. “They’re expensive. They’re cool. And they will continue to make this transit system one that’s the envy of other communities of our size and larger.”
The first of the new electric buses is slated to go into service this coming summer.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News