The Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) Authority has approved the purchase of four Proterra Catalyst E2 zero-emissions battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure. This purchase marks Proterra’s first airport customer and the first airport electric bus deployment in the Carolinas.
Currently, RDU shuttle buses transport on average 112,166 passengers and luggage per month between the airport’s two ParkRDU Economy lots and terminals with a diesel-powered fleet consisting of 14, 40-foot transit buses that are replaced every 7-10 years.
Funded in part by a $1.6-million zero-emissions vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the new Proterra battery-electric buses will replace four older diesel buses, resulting in the elimination 16.9 million pounds of greenhouse gases over the lifetime of these vehicles.
Riders will enjoy a smoother, exhaust-free ride, experiencing less noise as the bus travels between the terminal and parking lot shuttle stops. In addition to traveler benefits, the operational cost of electricity, at $.19/mile, is substantially lower than diesel, at $.84/mile. Combining this with greatly improved vehicle efficiency, at 21 MPG equivalent, and reduced vehicle maintenance costs will result in a savings of about $1.8 million during the 12-year lifetime of these new Proterra buses. Scheduled to be placed in service in early 2019, the buses will be designed and built at Proterra’s Greenville, S.C. manufacturing facility.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot Program was created in 2012 to improve airport air quality and facilitates use of zero emissions technologies at airports. Grants are awarded for up to 50% of the cost of zero emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure.