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Harvard buys four Proterra electric buses

Harvard University recently purchased four Proterra battery-electric buses and electric infrastructure. The new buses will replace four, similarly sized biodiesel-powered vehicles, representing more than 30% of Harvard’s fleet.

Each Proterra battery-electric transit bus is 35 feet long (similar in size to the current buses), has a seating capacity of 29, and runs on a 450 kWh battery. The new 800-volt system architecture allows vehicles to accept high-power DC fast-charging. The shuttles will be charged during off-peak overnight hours when demand for electricity is typically lower using 150 kW charging stations located at 28 Travis St. in Allston. The vehicles can be fully charged in about three hours.

In 2018, Harvard set a goal to eliminate the use of fossil fuels on its campus by 2050 and to achieve fossil fuel-neutrality by 2026. To achieve this, the University made a commitment that all Harvard-owned vehicles will operate without fossil fuels.

Each year, the fleet transports approximately 600,000 students across Harvard’s campus and the transition to electric is expected to lower greenhouse gas emissions by more than 220,000 pounds annually. Harmful air pollutants will also be reduced providing health benefits to local communities.

The project was supported with a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) grant program, which is funding nearly 100 projects across the commonwealth to help electrify the transportation sector. In addition, a loan from the Harvard Green Revolving Fund, a $12-million revolving loan fund that provides up-front capital for projects that reduce Harvard’s environmental impact, will enable investment in the charging system infrastructure necessary to support the new vehicles.

Harvard also recently joined MassEVolves, an initiative that recognizes and supports the work of organizations in Massachusetts that use zero-emission vehicles for their operations, employees, and communities. As a participant in MassEVolves, Harvard supports opportunities to secure cleaner air and a stronger economy across the state. To help achieve these goals, Harvard pledges to create and implement a Zero-Emission Vehicles Action Plan, which will include steps such as replacing bio-diesel powered buses with electric buses.

Harvard has already incorporated electric power into many campus operations, from electric leaf blowers to service and operation vehicles. Commuters can also access dozens of electric vehicle charging stations across the campus in Cambridge and Allston.


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