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Former DOT Secretary LaHood Joins Colorado Electric Bus Firm

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Ray LaHood when he was DOT Secretary

Ray LaHood when he was DOT Secretary

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has joined the Board of Directors of Proterra Inc., a company known for designing and manufacturing “the most cost effective zero emission battery electric buses,” writes HeraldOnline.com. Proterra, which moved its headquarters from South Carolina to Golden, Colorado, in 2012, was founded by Dale Hill in 2004. It was Hill who launched “the first and most successful fleet of alternative fuel buses in the 1990s (the 16th Street Mall buses in Denver, CO, that are still running today),” according to Proterra.

LaHood announced last January that he would resign as DOT secretary, and stepped down in July after the U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Anthony Foxx to succeed him, according to Wikipedia. As DOT secretary, LaHood was an avid supporter of electric vehicle transit and led the Federal Transit Administration’s Clean Fuels Program, which helped fund the purchase of EV buses by several U.S. cities, HeraldOnline.com writes. LaHood visited Proterra in 20111 and called it “a model for the rest of the country,” according to HeraldOnline.com. As this blog has written, as DOT secretary, LaHood was especially known for his campaigns to prevent distracted driving.

HeraldOnline.com quotes LaHood:

‘I believe in the need for dependable, lower cost, more sustainable transit options,’ said LaHood. ‘EV is the future of transit, and I am pleased to lend my knowledge and support to building this future with Proterra — the clear industry leader and the only American EV bus manufacturer.’

Proterra’s website gives the following facts about the benefits of its buses, facts that are especially interesting in light of this blog’s recent post about potential problems in powering all of the electric vehicles that will eventually be on U.S. roads.

Proterra writes:

Immediate EV Technology Benefits

You don’t have to wait years, months or even weeks to benefit from Proterra’s advanced EV technology. The results are immediate:

  • 21+ MPG (Diesel BTU Equivalent)
  • Fully charges in under 10 minutes
  • 300+ miles per day, 30+ miles per charge
  • Automatic connection to FastFill™ Charging Station

The Proterra EcoRide™ is the most fuel-efficient bus on the road and offers the lowest carbon footprint of any bus on the road.

  • $750,000 in fuel savings vs. diesel over 16-year life cycle
  • 44% less carbon than CNG
  • 87,000 lb carbon savings annually vs. CNG
  • Eliminates volatility of fossil fuel prices

Although Proterra’s EcoRide™ BE35 is a “pure battery electric bus, its design allows for addition of auxiliary power units (APU) for recharging the energy storage system where vehicle routes or lack of electrical infrastructure does not make charging stations possible or desirable,” the company writes.

Among LaHood’s accomplishments as DOT secretary, several were related to buses:

  • The department invested $7.9 billion to help build major new transit rail and bus infrastructure projects across 13 cities;
  •  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration helped strengthen passenger carrier safety and enforcement, dramatically increasing the number of bus inspections of the nation’s passenger carriers — including unveiling SaferBus, a free app that allows bus riders to review a bus company’s safety record;
  • The department tested connected-vehicle technology at an Ann Arbor test site in approximately 3,000 cars, trucks, and buses.

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