StarMetro Gets Eco-Friendly Buses

StarMetro, Tallahassee’s lead transportation provider, is paving the way for a more environmentally friendly method of transporting its patrons.

The city’s transit system has signed a contract with Proterra, Inc. for three new zero-emission, all-electric buses and a charging station.

Proterra, Inc., founded by Dale Hill in 2004, is the leading provider of zero-emission commercial vehicles, according the company’s website.

The clean, quiet, neighborhood friendly vehicles were first used in California and are now being launched in San Antonio and Tallahassee.

“The timing is great for us [Tallahassee] to be at the very front and be a leader not only in the area, but nationwide …to bring this new technology and energy savings to Florida and the city of Tallahassee,” said Ralph Wilder, superintendent of transit maintenance at StarMetro.

Last year, StarMetro received grant monies from Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER), for the project. The $5 million helped to supply the BE-35 battery electric buses.

“As a faculty member in the Environmental Sciences Institute, zero emission vehicles are great for the environment because they emit, significantly, less carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide exacerbates climate change because it’s a greenhouse gas. With less carbon dioxide, we can have less climate change,” said Ashvini Chauhan, assistant professor in the ESI.

This is only the beginning for Proterra, Inc. and Tallahassee’s eco-friendly transit system. The company plans to build state-of-the-art research and development centers, and manufacturing plants in various states like South Carolina and possibly Virginia. Also, StarMetro does not plan on stopping with just three buses.

“It would be great if we could have all electric buses,” said Mary White, project coordinator.

“We are exploring the possibility of creative financing. This will allow us to expand our electric bus fleet,” said Wilder.