Routes 2, 3, 4: The stop at the airport has moved to the general public traffic lanes on the lower loop of Airport Way. The stop is located from pillar 14 to pillar 17 at the end of the arrivals pick up lanes
Get on board with electric
There’s a new team in town charged with making a change. A quieter, more comfortable commute, and a more sustainable Treasure Valley.
Experience the future of transportation
Electric buses (or E-buses) are a big step toward making the Treasure Valley a cleaner, more sustainable place to live, work, and play. With nearly zero emissions, the battery-powered buses are fueled by Idaho Power, which generates approximately 60% renewable electricity.
We always put riders first
You may notice small changes when boarding an electric bus. First, you won’t hear it coming. E-buses are whisper quiet, so keep your eyes peeled when the bus is scheduled to arrive. Once you sit down, it’s even easier to get comfortable. The smoother ride of electric means you can enjoy the commute while you read, work, listen to music, or just relax. And when you arrive at your destination, you’ll breathe easy knowing that your clean commute released nearly zero emissions into our air.
Taking your first ride is easy, whether the bus is electric or not. These buses might be new, but they don’t cost any more to ride.Learn How to Ride
How do electric buses compare?
Electric buses have about 90% fewer moving parts than gasoline-powered buses, which means the maintenance is minimal. Discover how they compare to more traditional buses.
Meet The Electric Fleet!
Questions & Answers
When will the buses arrive?
Several buses are already here! They were put into service on Valley Regional Transit routes in October. More electric buses are on their way.
Will they cost more to ride?
No! These buses might be new, but they don’t cost any more to ride. See all fares & passes.
Why do we need electric buses?
Electric buses help our community thrive! They are very kind to the environment! Quiet and smooth to ride, they reduce CO2 emissions, and you can ride them whether you have a car or not, so there are fewer cars on the road which means less traffic!
Are the electric buses quiet?
Whisper quiet! Keep your eyes open—you won’t hear them coming!
Where does the power for the buses come from?
The buses charge at special electric charging stations at Valley Regional Transit’s Orchard Facility. Each bus can travel between 169 and 276 miles before needing a charge!
How many people can ride a bus?
Each bus holds nearly 40 riders.
How do I ride the bus?
Riding the bus is easy! Learn to ride and plan your trip, discover how to pay, and read tips and tricks to make your bus ride extra easy and relaxing.
Why do the buses have to be so big?
Valley Regional Transit operates a mix of 35-foot and 40-foot transit vehicles, which is typical of most transit services. Standard vehicle sizes make it easier to operate service and ensure sufficient capacity where needed. Further, transit vehicles are designed to provide safe, reliable, and comfortable transportation for people with different physical abilities. Low-floor vehicles with easy wheelchair access are not typical features of smaller vehicles.
The first four electric buses purchased by VRT were the 40-foot version of the Proterra battery-electric bus. VRT ordered the buses to anticipate expanded service needs starting October 1, 2021. At the time, Proterra could only deliver 40-foot buses to meet the deadline. VRT will eventually get eight 35-foot Proterra electric buses.
What's different about the batteries used to power the Proterra buses compared to batteries in cars or electric bicycles?
According to Proterra: Transit fleets need long life for their batteries and significant uptime. So we’ve designed our battery systems from the ground up to meet the transit and commercial vehicle segment demands.
Proterra batteries are purpose-built for commercial applications, proven on the road through 20+ million service miles in heavy-duty applications for mass transit. Proterra batteries are designed from the cell level up for commercial usage. Proterra batteries have industry-leading energy density for maximum range, a flexible design to fit a wide variety of vehicles, and a ruggedized commercial grade housing to withstand harsh environments. We’ve established a lifespan of 4,000 cycles for our battery systems; that’s charging and discharging every day for 12 years in a transit vehicle.
In addition, safety and reliability are at the heart of Proterra’s battery technology platform. Proterra batteries are manufactured with safety mechanisms built directly into the battery architecture and have undergone extensive testing to meet exacting safety standards. All battery products undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can withstand a full-service life under the toughest conditions, including extreme heat, cold, water submersion, vibration, and impact. Proterra battery systems incorporate Proterra’s patented technology, monitoring sensors throughout the battery pack, and passive propagation resistance, isolating individual battery cells in the rare case of a thermal event to prevent wider spread.
What happens to the batteries when they have reached the end of useful life?
Valley Regional Transit is leasing the batteries in the buses from Proterra. Batteries are replaced every six years. After the battery lease term expires, VRT will purchase batteries and pay Proterra a disposal fee. The company will dispose of the batteries appropriately.
Here’s what Proterra has to say about what happens to the batteries when they have reached the end of useful life:
Proterra battery packs are designed to easily separate components for recycling purposes, allowing for 100% of aluminum used in the battery pack to be recycled.
Earlier this year, we entered into our company’s first battery recycling partnership with Redwood Materials. Under our partnership, Proterra will be sending all battery material to Redwood Materials for recycling once it becomes available and Proterra has exhausted the usable life.
Nobody is talking about the many bad environmental impacts of electric vehicles. What is the upside of electric buses, given the alternatives of diesel or CNG?
Electric vehicles offer a solution for reducing transportation-produced emissions, running on battery power instead of traditional fossil fuels like gas or diesel. With zero tailpipe emissions, Proterra’s fleet of purpose-built e-buses reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse gases and other pollutants generated by heavy-duty vehicles on the road.
Every year a Proterra electric bus operates in place of a diesel bus, it displaces 230,000+ pounds of CO2 that the diesel bus would have emitted if it were clocking that mileage instead, based on the Commercial Fleet Carbon Footprint Calculator. With more than 700 buses in operation and more than 20 million miles driven, Proterra’s electric fleet has displaced more than 100 million pounds of carbon emissions along the way. To put that figure into perspective, 100 million pounds of carbon emissions is equivalent to nearly 114 million miles driven by passenger vehicles, more than five million gallons of gasoline consumed, or more than 50 million pounds of coal burned, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
Electric buses charged on the electric grid have produced up to 87% less per-mile lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions when compared to their diesel counterparts, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists released in 2019. Even in cities dependent on conventional power plants, electric buses still produce less than half of the pollution of diesel or natural gas buses on average, the UCS noted in a 2018 study.
How much does it cost to charge an electric bus?
The simple answer is between 11- and 17-cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh.) Rates can vary by time of day and season. According to the Proterra website, electric buses require about 2 kWh per mile, so it could cost anywhere from 22-cents to 34-cents per mile to recharge the batteries. Assuming a bus travels 100 miles in completing its route, it would require 200 kWh to recharge the batteries or between $22 and $34 to refuel.
Valley Regional Transit’s goal is to recharge the buses overnight when power costs are lower.
How does the cost of charging an electric bus compare to compressed natural gas?
The cost of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) varies considerably depending on demand, but generally, it is less expensive to operate an electric bus than one powered by CNG. Using calculations from Proterra, CNG buses average 2.8 miles per gallon or about 83-cents per mile. Meanwhile, charging an electric bus costs between 22- and 34 cents-per-mile.
There are additional cost savings with electric vs. CNG because the electric buses require less maintenance. The buses have fewer moving parts and will never need oil changes.
Who paid for the electric buses?
Valley Regional Transit had federal and local match dollars budgeted for bus replacements. VRT also applied for low- and no-emission competitive vehicle grants through the Federal Transit Administration and was awarded three million dollars. VRT partnered with bus manufacturer Proterra to use the bus replacement and grant monies to purchase eight buses and six chargers. VRT purchased four additional electric buses using other federal funds and local funds from Boise and Meridian.
How much do these buses cost compared to CNG buses?
New electric buses cost between $750,000 and $800,000 each. New CNG buses cost about $550,000 each. There are federal programs that help offset the cost difference between electric and CNG.
While an electric bus can cost more upfront than diesel or natural-gas-powered buses, they offer a low total cost of ownership and less volatile fuel costs when compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.
Further, operating and maintenance expenses are substantially lower than diesel alternatives because electric buses have fewer parts, require no oil changes or emissions tests, and place less wear on braking systems.
In addition, Proterra offers a battery leasing program that lowers the upfront cost of a Proterra electric bus to be roughly the same as a standard diesel or natural gas-powered bus. Customers can utilize operating funds previously earmarked for fuel to pay for the battery lease. Valley Regional Transit is leasing batteries from Proterra for the first six years of running the electric buses.
Where does VRT get the electricity used to charge the buses?
Valley Regional Transit gets electrical power from Idaho Power, just like most homes in the area. Compared to most utilities around the country, Idaho Power has a very clean energy mix. Hydroelectric energy is the utility’s largest source of energy. The amount of hydro varies from year to year based on snowpack. Consumers can refer to the Idaho Power website for a breakdown of the previous year’s energy mix.
Idaho Power’s energy mix is also getting cleaner since the company exited a contract for power from an Oregon-based coal-powered plant in 2020. The company has vowed to produce 100% clean energy by 2045.
Which routes are going to be getting electric buses?
The electric buses will operate on routes in Ada County. Electric bus service won’t be offered in Canyon County until charging facilities are installed at the Happy Day Transit Center to support them. When the new Route 30 Pine starts in Meridian, it will feature electric buses.