Washington D.C. Deploys Proterra Electric Buses Across Nation’s Capital

MAY 27 2018 BY MARK KANE 21

The D.C. Circulator introduces in Washington a fleet of Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses.

The fleet of 14 buses is now the largest on the East Coast and one of the largest in the U.S., with potential for more than 4,800,000 annual riders.

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D.C. Circulator launched the buses across all six routes on May 1. These routes included D.C.’s historical sites like the U.S. Capitol, National Mall and Lincoln Memorial.

“Formed through a partnership between the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and DC Surface Transit (DCST), the D.C. Circulator system services six distinct routes across Washington, D.C. and Rosslyn, VA. In line with the DDOT’s comprehensive Sustainability Plan and related green infrastructure initiatives, which strive to improve the environment, social structure and economy of Washington, D.C., these 14 Proterra buses will reduce emissions and democratize electric transportation access to all riders throughout one of our nation’s most historic cities.

Currently, the Circulator provides door-to-door transportation to more than 25 museums, monuments and memorials along the National Mall. Providing more than five millions trips each year, the Circulator only costs $1 to ride, ensuring that residents, commuters, and visitors alike have access to fast and affordable transportation. Now, with the addition of 14 new battery-electric Proterra buses, these riders can experience the appeal of zero-emission transit options over traditional diesel-dependent alternatives.

With 14 Catalyst E2 buses, the D.C. Circulator will displace more than 88,900 gallons of diesel per year, and eliminate more than 243,980 pounds of CO2 emissions annually. In addition to the environmental benefits, the new highly efficient electric buses will also have a positive impact on DDOT’s bottom line, since they require less energy to operate and reduced maintenance. Over their 12-year lifetime, the 14 Proterra buses will result in fuel and maintenance cost savings of more than $6 million. The Catalyst E2 also holds the world record for an electric vehicle travelling 1,013.76 miles on a single charge.”

 Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said:

“This new fleet of electric buses will support our efforts to make Washington, D.C. the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation. The D.C. Circulator is one of the most popular transit systems in the city, and with this addition, we’re doing more to ensure we remain a sustainable, multimodal city for generations to come.”

Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra said:

“As one of the most vibrant and visited cities in the nation, Washington, D.C. is the perfect place for us to show citizens from across the country and the world that our technology not only dramatically reduces emissions, but also fundamentally improves the rider experience. We are proud to partner with DDOT, WMATA and DCST, which have made zero-emission transportation for D.C. possible and continue to raise the bar for its passengers and community alike.”

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21 Comments on "Washington D.C. Deploys Proterra Electric Buses Across Nation’s Capital"

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I live in DC, great move, make sense, I only hope that Trump and his buddies don’t penalize the city for been progressive.

YES! Quiet, no smell, less imported oil.

good move. but i feel it is too little too late.come on guys if Shenzhen can deploy over 6000 electrics, y cant Dc do that..wash Dc is supposed to be the capital city of the first world

“if Shenzhen can deploy over 6000 electrics”

Shenzhen deployed 16,359 which is considerably over 6,000.

I think China has something like 98% or more of the worlds EV buses, that is sad, because those really do help the environment all day, every day.

China is an kleptocratic autocracy, ruled by a corrupt group of communist party apparatchiks, so they can order the people that live there to adopt electric vehicles, or to force them off of the land their family has lived on for generations with no compensation… But electric vehicles are great!
Go there and talk to people when they know their government can’t hear the conversation. You may decide that the positives don’t outweigh the negatives. Even if they are building and deploying more electric buses than anyone else.

I have been there twice this year(closing in on 100 times in my life), and I do not hear anything different from anyone, including my wife that was born in Hong Kong. You might have some misinformed bias, maybe a trip or 2 could help you clear up… China has some really amazing things and people inside, yes the government is communist, and blocks certain websites… its not a big deal…

Really baby steps. It’s a sad reflection on the state of EV buses in the US that a 14-bus fleet is largest.
There’s no justification for this — the requirements are understood, and there are plenty of places outside the US that are already successfully operating municipal-bus EVs. There’s no need for every transport authority to spend months “studying” the issue (sometimes with overseas boondoggle trips) and then years on small pilot problems. There’s also no justification for subsidies here — it saves money longer term (loans to assist with the higher upfront cost might be justified).

It seems the BYD EV bus has done really poorly in Los Angeles, maybe baby steps isn’t a bad idea when changing over to new technologies.

That’s the first I’ve heard of any problems. Do you have a source?

Last week there was a scathing expose about BYD electric buses in the LA Times.


I read that too, I think BYD is experiencing a lot of quality problems, and I am an investor in BYD, but they need to clean up their act.

Proterra buses seem to be a bit more expensive but they also seem to be built better too.

Agree… The BYD buses stateside are definitely having quality issues

That was much too long. There was too much talk about the flawed bidding process, but I don’t think that is unique to BYD.

The buses are experiencing a number of small problems. I don’t know whether it is reasonable to give BYD more chances to fix them. It depends on where the competition is. But, for whatever reason, the governments gave BYD the go ahead.

The range of the buses is in much dispute. BYD claims they are achieving 147 miles out of a promised 155. Yes, your battery would be completely drained then, but that’s what range means. It doesn’t explain reported ranges of 59 miles between charges. Someone is not being entirely truthful.

The Proterra buses are nicer then the BYD, but also more pricey… BYD needs to clean up their quality, the ones I rode on in Shenzhen and London were great, but the ones here in the states seem to be more poorly built.

“Really baby steps. It’s a sad reflection on the state of EV buses in the US that a 14-bus fleet is largest.”

Largest on East coast. Your point is still valid though.

Seattle will have 73 battery buses and a fleet of electric trolleys.

Seattle (King County Metro) is buying Proterra, I have ridden on a couple, they are nice.

Didn’t Shenzhen get 14k. 14 seems a bit underwhelming. Oh well, better that nothing.

So are these the type that need fast charging infrastructure too, or can they handle a whole shift without charging?