2020 was our first year of operating a fleet that includes all-electric buses. We’re learning a lot about how these cleaner, greener buses work in operational settings, including charging and maintenance. It’s a process that is preparing us to add more electric bus capacity in both operational planning and resources.
Partnerships with Salt Lake City, the University of Utah, and Rocky Mountain Power were important aspects of this milestone. Even more important is the direction we’re headed in reducing emissions and improving our air quality.
UTA and the University of Utah are currently operating five battery electric buses and charging infrastructure, due to a federal grant from the Low-No (Low or No Emissions) program. UTA is operating three of the buses – the first all-electric buses in the fleet – with the other two being operated by the University of Utah. The project also includes one high powered overhead charger and two depot chargers.
The total project budget is $6.32 million with federal funds covering 85.9%. Construction of the charging stations was completed in 2020 and the buses are in service. It is estimated that the operation of the five buses will save an average of 48,500 gallons of diesel per year.
Park City Transit and UTA also partnered to receive another Low-No grant to purchase two additional battery electric buses and charging infrastructure. Rocky Mountain Power also funded a portion of the charging infrastructure. The total project budget is $3.2 million. Buses from this grant are operating on the PC-SLC Connect route which connects downtown Salt Lake City to Summit County and the Park City Transit System.
In 2019, UTA also received notice of a $13 million award from the state of Utah programmed Volkswagon Settlement funds. After issuing procurements, we have now received and are reviewing proposals supported by these funds to replace 20 diesel buses with battery electric buses. We are also in the process of finalizing charging infrastructure locations for the new buses. It is estimated that implementing these buses will save approximately 213,400 gallons of diesel each year.
Energy Partnerships and Grants
UTA recently implemented a strategic partnership agreement with Rocky Mountain Power (RMP). The agreement focuses on five areas: energy efficiency, electric vehicles, electrical infrastructure, grid resilience, research and grants.
In 2019, RMP funded a $2 million research initiative to further evaluate the impacts of the large scale implementation of battery electric bus technology and the impact on the electrical grid and the Intermodal Hub Project. The focus of the initiative is to develop control systems that could reduce the peak impacts of plugging high powered bus chargers on to the electrical grid, and looking to have bus chargers deploy outside the momentary peak energy drawn from UTA’s light rail system.
In April of 2020, Utah State University, RMP and ABB Power Systems, all in partnership with UTA, submitted a grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to advance concepts from our 2019 research as well as advance the implementation of electric vehicles. In July 2020, DOE approved all three parts of our application at nearly full funding, awarding a total of $13.25 million.
- 79% clean diesel buses
- 84% reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions since 2007
- 89% reduction in particulate matter (PM) since 2007
- 47 Clean Natural Gas buses
- 5 all-electric buses, 2 operated by the University of Utah.
Our 400 Vanpool Vehicles - these vehicles make carpooling and trip-sharing possible - reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles (SOV) on the road:
- 37,026,581 miles traveled
- 3,022 participating riders
- 1,068,364 trips made.
UTA’s Ogden Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will consist of 11 all-electric buses. The new mode will not only offer the community an alternative to single occupancy vehicles, it will offer no-emissions alternative! For more on Ogden BRT see rideuta.com/ogden.