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CityLink Hosts Unveiling Event of Three New Proterra Battery-Electric Buses

The Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink) hosted an event on September 8, 2021 at their facilities located at 2105 NE Jefferson Avenue in Peoria to officially unveil its three new Proterra battery-electric buses. Several dignitaries attended the event, and remarks were made by CityLink General Manager Doug Roelfs, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Darin LaHood, U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Selena Kyle on behalf of the Edwards settlement plaintiffs and community partners and Proterra founder Dale Hill.

At the beginning of the event, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and Proterra also hosted a unique ribbon cutting with one of the buses breaking a banner that served as the ribbon.

“Today began a new and exciting chapter in CityLink’s history. We are pleased we have officially unveiled these three new Proterra battery-electric buses and to have received support from our national, state and local dignitaries and community partners,” said CityLink General Manager Doug Roelfs. “The electric buses will be replacing our three oldest diesel buses, and we look forward to adding them to our fixed route fleet very soon. We hope our passengers will enjoy riding these zero-emission and clean-air buses for many years to come,” continued Roelfs.

All three buses are 35-foot Proterra Catalyst® battery-electric buses. Designed and manufactured in the United States, Proterra battery-electric buses feature zero tailpipe emissions, saving approximately 230,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually when replacing a diesel bus. The purpose-built electric buses further offer a quieter ride for reduced noise pollution, greater efficiency, and lower operating costs with fewer parts compared to combustion engine vehicles.

“Proterra is proud to support CityLink as it accelerates the transition to clean, quiet transportation across Peoria,” said Josh Ensign, President of Proterra Transit. “Driven by Proterra’s industry-leading electric transit buses and charging solutions, switching to zero-emission, electric transit buses is no longer just the right thing to do for our health and environment, it’s also the smart thing to do for our communities.”

Each bus has been uniquely wrapped with full bus wraps to distinguish them from the rest of CityLink’s fleet. Bus 2401 was designed by the Edwards settlement plaintiffs and community partners and features a cartoon electric bus character; bus 2402 was designed by local graphic designer Angie Walker and features a lightning bolt design; and bus 2403 was also designed by Angie Walker and features a hot air balloon design.

CityLink received $2.3 million in funding for two of these buses (2402 and 2403) and the accompanying charging infrastructure in July 2019 from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), as part of the Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) made the official announcement at the time.

“We are standing at the starting line of an electric vehicle revolution in our country, and Illinois is poised to lead the pack,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “I was proud to work with my colleagues to help secure federal funding for two of the buses unveiled today and applaud CityLink for its commitment to environmentally-friendly infrastructure. Think of the climate benefits of reduced carbon emissions, the health benefits of lowering our exposure to diesel fumes, and the many jobs this burgeoning electric vehicle supply chain creates. I’ll continue to support sustained and robust funding for innovations like this that drive our economy forward.”

CityLink was selected as a recipient of $1.23 million to fund the purchase of bus 2401 and the accompanying charging infrastructure in February 2020 as part of the Edwards Settlement Fund Distribution. The Edward settlement fund distribution was the result of a 2013 lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Respiratory Health Association (represented by the Environmental Law & Policy Center) against the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant, located on the Illinois River south of Bartonville. The result of the settlement provided for $8.6 million in funding for projects to benefit the greater Peoria region, including funding for electric buses for public transit fleets.

“The Edwards coal plant settlement was an opportunity for the community to imagine projects that could benefit the health and vibrancy of Peoria. Replacing diesel buses with clean electric buses will benefit the community in many ways including eliminating the exhaust fumes that hurt people’s lungs. These buses could be an exciting model for other communities looking to replace diesel with electric buses around Illinois,” said Selena Kyle, managing litigator for NRDC.

CityLink currently has a total of 53 buses in its active fixed route fleet, including four diesel-electric hybrid buses that were received in 2016 and 2017. All CityLink diesel powered buses are Tier 4 Emission Certified with Cummins Engines, emitting cleaner air than they take in.

CityLink will continue with staff training on these battery-electric buses for a few more weeks, and it expects the buses to be added to the fixed route fleet in October.

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