Mineta San José International Airport welcomes 10 new electric buses

May 7, 2019
The Proterra-supplied buses will transport passengers and their luggage between SJC’s parking lots, rental car center and terminals.

Ten new battery-electric, zero-emission buses were deployed at Mineta San José International Airport’s (SJC) where they will transport passengers and their luggage between SJC's parking lots, rental car center and terminals. 

San José Mayor Sam Liccardo noted that the deployment, which is among the largest at a U.S. airport and a first for a California airport, established the city as a leader in the fight against climate change. 

“These electric buses can help us significantly reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions and represent a step toward our aspiration that an electric engine power every shuttle and bus on San José’s streets,” said Mayor Liccardo.

Funded in part by a $5 million zero-emissions grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the electric buses replace the aging compressed natural gas bus fleet that has been operating at SJC since 2008. The electric bus fleet is anticipated to reduce ozone emissions by 1.1 tons over a 10-year period, which is the equivalent of 50 gas-powered passenger vehicles taken off the roads.

The buses and charging systems were designed and manufactured by Proterra. The San José  City Council approved purchase of the 10 buses from Proterra in 2017 and cited the company's sustainability, performance and operational cost-savings excellence.     

San José Clean Energy source will power the electric buses and, the city notes, contribute to the airport meeting its sustainability goals in conjunction with Climate Smart San José, a city initiative to reduce air pollution, save water and create a stronger and healthier community.    

“SJC is continuing down a green path of enhancing the sustainability of Airport operations as the buses are powered by the city’s very own San José Clean Energy source,” said Director of Aviation John Aitken. “With room for 40 passengers and their luggage onboard, our travelers will enjoy a more comfortable journey between the parking lots and terminals, while having the satisfaction their zero-emissions bus is contributing to cleaner air.”

The city explains that the buses were purpose-built to be electric and deliver optimal energy efficiency at a lower operating cost than fossil-fuel combustion engines. SJC joins a growing list of airports (including Indianapolis, New York-JFK, Newark, LaGuardia, Sacramento, LAX and SFO), transit agencies and universities and colleges, that are making the transition to zero-emission vehicle fleets.

Proterra notes that, to date, its Catalyst buses on the road have driven more than seven million service miles and displaced more than 40 million pounds of tailpipe emissions.     

“We are so proud to see these beautiful California-made electric buses deployed here at San José Airport, running on clean electricity which is generated locally,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple. “You can’t get this done without public and private sector innovators that are dedicated to improving their community with electric vehicle technology that has both economic and environmental benefits. We are so grateful to the city of San José and SJC for their leadership and commitment to clean, quiet transportation.”     

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.