By Michael Tree
Missoulians love Mountain Line for a variety of reasons. For some, its the ability to save around $10,000 a year by going from two vehicles to one…or from one vehicle to none. For others, it might be the relaxing commute. I’m seeing more riders on my bus roue with their iPads and tablets enjoying the free 4G WiFi by Community Medical Center. And, for others its the environmental benefits–cleaner air is certainly a way that Mountain Line benefits us all.
The Mountain Line board of directors has the goal of a zero-emission fleet. To bridge the gap between clean diesel and electric buses (which currently cost twice as much as clean diesel buses), the Missoula Urban Transportation District recently submitted a grant to the Federal Transit Administration to acquire five hybrid buses.
The modern hybrid bus is powered by a clean diesel hybrid electrical propulsion system. Basically, the way the technology works is that there is a much smaller clean diesel engine that supplements electric power, which is re-charged through braking. It reduces emissions, saves on fuel and is smoother and quieter, so it is environmentally and economically responsible while also being passenger and community friendly.
We’re hoping that the Federal Transit Administration awards Missoula the state’s first hybrid buses. It’s a competitive process, but the timing is right. Want to help? Contact Senator Jon Tester at 202-224-2644 and Senator John Walsh at 202-224-2651 and tell them to bring home to Montana hybrid buses for Missoula through the Federal Transit Administrations LoNo grant program.
Over the next decade Mountain Line will completely replace its current fleet. It’s great news that the goal is zero-emissions for a healthier, more prosperous Missoula.