DART unveils Iowa’s first battery electric bus

Oct. 2, 2020
The bus is one of seven that will be part of a pilot program made possible with a partnership with MidAmerican Energy.

Des Moines Authority Regional Transit (DART) revealed Iowa’s first battery electric bus Oct. 1. The bus will be one of seven from Proterra that will enter service later in the fall as part of a pilot program.  

“Today, DART and our region join other cities across the country who are piloting this new technology,” said DART CEO Elizabeth Presutti. “Not only are we excited to offer cleaner transportation to Greater Des Moines, we are excited about the potential for these electric buses to save DART money in operating and maintenance costs. This historical first for the state of Iowa and DART was put in motion by the support of MidAmerican and for that we will always be grateful.”

DART credits its public-private partnership with MidAmerican Energy with making the pilot program possible. The energy company provided the local match for DART’s Fiscal Year 2017 Low or No-Emission Bus Program grant application through the Federal Transit Administration, which resulted in a $1.45 million award.

“MidAmerican Energy is proud to partner with DART to bring electric buses to greater Des Moines,” said Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration for MidAmerican. “By connecting our wind energy with environmentally-friendly transportation technology we’re continuing to build a sustainable future for our region.”

In separate but complementary news, MidAmerican Energy committed on Oct. 1 to expanding its network of electric vehicle fast chargers from 18 sites by the end of 2020 to 50 sites by the end of 2022 in the state.

Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg believes the transition to electric buses will be noted as an example of what is possible through public-private partnerships as the state works toward greater conservation efforts.

“There are milestones we can look back on and identify as critically important. Today is one of those milestones,” said Lt. Gov. Gregg.

DART will be training more than 100 drivers how to operate the electric buses and anticipates the buses will begin service in the coming months on Route 60 – the Ingersoll/University Avenue loop – where they will be evaluated on overall performance and long-term financial savings.

The Proterra Catalyst buses are expected to travel 150-230 miles per single charge and each electric bus will save approximately 230,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually.

On its website detailing the electric bus pilot program, DART describes the buses as “clean as a whistle. Quiet as a whisper.”

“As excited as we are for riders to experience the difference, everyone will benefit from the introduction of electric buses,” added Presutti. “Those who walk, bike and travel along our streets will enjoy cleaner air, quieter surroundings and a healthier environment.”

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.