Leading Electric Bus Company Proterra Hits 1,000,000-Mile Milestone (Revenue Service)

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One of the top electric bus manufacturers out there, Proterra, recently hit a notable new milestone — the company logged more than 1,000,000 miles in revenue service.

The milestone event was reportedly celebrated by the company at a special event at its facility in Greenville, South Carolina — where it “honored” its partners in the public transit fields for their pioneering embrace of electric buses.


This process of recognition involved Proterra presenting the various transit agencies in question with an award to mark the occasion.

“Reaching our 1,000,000th mile in revenue service is a significant milestone, not just for Proterra, but for the entire transit industry,” stated Popple. “Along with our forward-thinking and highly valued transit agency partners, we can offer the world a million proof points to bolster the fact that electric vehicles not only offer great performance, but represent the best total cost of ownership and environmental option for transit agencies.”

A recent press release provides more:

By combining performance, efficiency and flexibility, Proterra buses offer the lowest per passenger cost and environmental impact of any transit bus technology — electric, diesel, hybrid, or natural gas. Proterra has now received orders from 14 different transit agencies in cities across North America. Over the course of their 1,000,000 miles in service, Proterra customers have saved nearly 250,000 gallons of fossil fuel and have eliminated nearly 3.5 million pounds of emissions from being released into the environment.

The partners in question which were presented with awards by Proterra were: TARC (Louisville, Kentucky), San Joaquin RTD (Stockton, California), VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, Texas), WRTA (Worcester, Massachusetts), Foothill Transit (Pomona, California), the City of Seneca, SC/Clemson Area Transit, RTC Washoe (Reno, Nevada), and StarMetro (Tallahassee, Florida).

With BYD continuing to expand its electric bus offerings, Proterra is going to probably have to work harder to continue to see the strong growth of recent years. Or… may be not. Perhaps the market will grow fast enough to accommodate good growth across the board for all the major firms.

Image Credit: Proterra

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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26 thoughts on “Leading Electric Bus Company Proterra Hits 1,000,000-Mile Milestone (Revenue Service)

  • I wonder just what are the running costs against diesel powered.
    One area would have to be service costs.
    Fuel costs a given.
    I can remember trolley busses that used overhead wires and run on the same network as trams however a battery storage electric drive does give greater flexibility as to the route that the bus can travel an advantage over the trolley bus.

    • According to their web site – up to $365,000 for lifetime of bus vs. diesel. Up to $256,000 compared to CNG.


      The current sales price is more than $500k higher than a standard diesel bus so they don’t make sense on a purely economic level yet. (Maintenance costs might make the difference.)

      • Yes bob I did have a look at their web site.
        I would say also that with volume production the unit cost will go down and the bottom line position will enhance even more.
        From what I read it looks like they do pay for them selves inside the time line however I think the real savings are in service turn around and availability.
        A typical full service for a diesel bus will take it out of service for at least 4 to 5 hours.
        Now the electric service would be 1 hour to 2 hours I expect.
        This added availability will go straight to the bottom line.

        • Apparently Proterra buses come with 53 kWh and 131 kWh battery packs. Battery prices should come down to the $100/kWh price over the next few years. I would expect the cost of a battery pack and electric motor to end up less expensive than a diesel engine and its support systems.

          The big question is whether it would make more sense to use shorter range buses and charge them along the route (chargers cost money) or go with a larger battery pack like BYD uses, 324 kWh, and charging when off duty.

          Fewer buses run late at night. Charging for a few hours should be no problem.

          Time will tell….

      • For now hybrid buses, do save costs and get the extra investment back in about 2 years, as per one article on this site, from real life use of such buses.

    • Not having overhead wires would make battery powered buses a much easier well to the public.

      • I agree Bob the trolley idea has had it’s day.
        I would expect a combination of short route low battery storage and long route large battery storage to be in operation.
        One of the European solutions is to have a charge platform at every stop so the bus is being charged at every stop.
        This kind of arrangement would be most suitable using flow batteries which can work at any state of charge not so good for Li.
        Weigh and footprint being the problem with flow batteries.
        I can only see the electric bus being adopted and used in the urban transport scene, as busses are replaced.

      • A number of people actually push for the wires (nostalgia? sense of long-term stability?). There are wireless options, but they don’t get much attention from people pushing for such transit.

        • Are they pushing for wires or for electrification of public transport? Some people probably think wires are the only route.

          I take that back. Most people probably think wires are the only route.

          Wires and sparks are noisy. Does that figure into urban planning?

    • I’m not sure, but the head of Barcelona’s transit agency after a few month of testing BYD electric buses told me that the lifetime cost looked like it would be the same as conventional (diesel, iirc) buses. Of course, they would wait to make official conclusions following the pilot program.

      • BYD is Chinese manufacturer are they not?
        I would expect that for urban transport that the lowering of service cost plus the lower power supply costs should come out in front against conventional bus design.

      • A local study here has shown that for a mid size swedish city the TCO for an electric bus would be 26% less than for a conventional diesel bus (not that we have many of those though since most are biogas buses).


        Maybe not all that helpfull, but the most important picture from the study is this one


        From left to right…biogas, biodiesel, conventional diesel, number 4 is all electric bus with a higher number of fast chargers needed, number 5 is all electric with less fast chargers needed, 6 is traditional hybrid and 7 is a plug-in hybrid bus.

        Blue being the cost when buying the bus, red-ish being the energy cost, and the other colors other costs like maintenance etc.

        It will be a different story at different places but here it’s a no-brainer (even though every change always takes time) or at least it should be a no-brainer. The transition hasn’t really gotten much pace yet.

        • Excellent! Thanks! Very timely for another conversation we are having on a new Proterra story. Will share, and save this as well.

  • Diesel fumes are carcinogenic. Diesel fuel sources are exhaustible, electric sources are not . . .

    • Very true on both counts.

    • Unfortunately, the common person and the heads of transit agencies don’t typically take the health costs into account when doing the math. A real shame. You’d think we’d be smart enough to do that by now.

      • Externalities are never taken into account now, however as we move forward into a more educated populace, these factors will be looked at and every industry will have to meet more stringent guidelines that ensure that the externalities are lower or a penalty will ensure that they are removed from the business.
        Those who blithely ignore the penalty will not be able to thrive whereas now they can with impunity.
        We really need to get a more educated populace and in particular a more educated elected member in parliament.
        As we stand now we have pretty poorly educated people making very important decisions on behalf of the country just look at the leaders of each country other than Germany which other country has someone who has a degree in any of the Science areas in particular??
        We have lots of members of parliament who have law degrees who have zero idea about science and this is a huge problem.

        • Same problem in the US, unfortunately most elections are run like popularity contests rather than for abilities or qualifications.

          • Very true and they get a very poor delivery of news to boot which does not give them a world view

        • It is less about science, but rather common sence and understanding what the real problem is, with our actions.

          • Martin
            do you honestly think self interested people are going to look over the fence I doubt it very much.
            I honestly feel sad that I am giving my grandkids a pretty buggered up world I will be long gone and they will look back and not be proud of my use of the world they have to live in.

          • Even though i do share you sentiment, I do have hope, simply because a lot of companies etc, (people with brains) are going the right way.
            But mainly because it is about the money, saving it, making more profit.
            That is the reason why FF will go down, even with political support, once people understand the economics the dumb politicians will be gone. 😉

  • “Leading EV bus company”… in what way are they leading? Have they even sold 50 buses?

    • Leading in EV
      Just remember that Electric motors are very efficient as against ICE motors that are very poor especially in stop start operation.
      This is simple engineering and extremely well know, why do you think rail roads have gone to electric not diesel or those who still cling to diesel use diesel electric a half way step.
      In heavy haulage I am talking 150 to 360 tonne payload they use electric drive because of the economic advantage.
      I hope your are totally across this and I apologize if you are.

      • Well, that’s the thing they are not leading in EV. Unless my definition of leading is different from others. There are plenty of bus manufacturers that have sold a lot more EV buses, done more and that are present at a lot more places than the measly 14 locations like Proterra.

        Proterra is a tiny irrelevant company in the transition to EV buses, yet is mentioned in every other EV bus article. If they were larger and actually had some money you would have to assume that they were paying for the publicity. 😛

  • It’s not all about cost of purchase and running the bus .Silent operation and no carcinogenic diesel pollution are worth quite a bit too …

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