Madison Metro adds three battery-electric buses to fleet

Federal grant helps fund purchase that is an effort to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
Blue Proterra bus heading toward the city.
Proterra is a leading producer of zero-emission busses, with more than 400 vehicles sold in over 20 states. (Photo courtesy of Proterra)

Madison’s Metro Transit will retire three of its diesel buses and replace them later this year with battery-electric, zero-emission buses from Proterra Inc. in an effort to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

The replacement comes after a $1.3 million Federal Transit Administration Low or No-Emission grant was awarded to Metro Transit to aid with the purchase, with each bus expected to cost around $667,000. The grant provides funding to local and state transportation teams as a way to help with the cost of developing sustainable fuel technology and infrastructure, and Madison Metro was one of 50 agencies across the nation that received a share of the $55 million grant.

Proterra is a leading company in the production of zero-emission buses. On a single charge, certain models from Proterra’s line can drive almost 350 miles, and the power/fuel cost to operate one of these buses comes down to 16 cents per mile. Currently, the cost to operate one of Madison Metro’s hybrid-electric buses is 63 cents per mile.

A blue and white 40-foot long Proterra bus.

Three of Proterra’s zero-emission models will be joining Madison Metro Transit later this year. (Photo courtesy of Proterra).

Proterra’s 40-foot long buses are expected to arrive in Madison in fall 2020. Back in 2007, Madison Metro was the first transit system in the state to introduce hybrid-electric buses, and currently, all buses in the system run on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, meaning cleaner emissions.

In 2016, then-Mayor Paul Soglin noticed the need for more zero-emission transit in the city, and set a goal of making 50% of the buses in Madison emission-free by 2035. Madison Gas and Electric, along with the Center for Transportation and the Environment, have both partnered with the transportation system to help develop charging infrastructure and ensure the most efficient operation of the new buses.