Electric Buses Drive Healthier Communities

Media Contacts
Skye Borden

New report demonstrates the public health benefits of Missoula’s new electric fleet

Environment Montana Research & Policy Center

Missoula Mountain Line’s addition of six electric buses will significantly cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions each year and further reduce localized air pollution.

Research based on a new report from Environment Montana Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, “Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air,” shows that the Mountain Line’s electrification will avoid an estimated 340 tons of climate-altering pollution each year — the equivalent of taking 66 cars off Missoula’s streets. 

“Missoula’s bus fleet already reduces the number of cars on our roads and helps to make our community more livable and sustainable,” said Borden with Environment Montana Research & Policy Center. “Now, with an upgrade to electric buses, the Mountain Line can do even more to reduce local air pollution and fight climate change.”

Our research shows that whether commuters are on the bus or boarding the bus, they’re exposed to air pollutants in high concentrations, while simultaneously, diesel contributes to global warming.

“Diesel can cause a number of health problems, including asthma and cancer, and unfortunately that’s what is powering most of America’s buses,” said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and coauthor of the report. “Our report shows that all-electric buses can help cities address public health and climate concerns while saving money in the long-run.”

The good news is that all-electric buses are available and ready to roll, and they’re cleaner, healthier and often cheaper for transit agencies to run in the long-term. And with zero tailpipe emissions, electric buses can significantly reduce people’s exposure to polluted air.

Missoula’s Mountain Line recently received a $2.7 million federal grant to replace its oldest buses with new, zero-emission electric buses. The agency expects 3 new electric buses to be delivered in the spring of 2019. Additional electric buses will be added to the fleet before the end of 2020.

“Improving our air quality is one of Mountain Line’s primary benefits to the community,” said Bill Pfeiffer, Mountain Line Community Outreach Coordinator. “Our directors are committed to transitioning our fleet to zero-emissions vehicles in the years to come, and we’re excited to begin this new chapter for transit in Missoula.”

Although the purchase price of electric is higher than diesel buses, the report also estimates that maintenance and fuel costs for electric buses are less than half that of diesel buses. These reduced costs add up to a total savings per bus of $81,000 over its anticipated 12-year lifetime.  

Read the full report here: https://environmentmontanacenter.org/reports/mte/electric-buses