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Getting to Zero-Emission Transit

Have you seen buses with vibrant Via logos in your community? Many people recognize these buses as belonging to a local nonprofit organization serving people with mobility limitations.

But very few understand that Via has evolved into an innovative, community transit agency whose mission touches everyone. In partnership with regional and local governments, Via operates public transit services, such as the HOP in the City of Boulder and Ride Free Lafayette.

During the pandemic, Via has doubled our service area by expanding into the Metro Denver area. Our buses are still rolling, taking commuters to work, patients to dialysis and cancer treatments, and delivering food and prescriptions to our clients and families in need. As a second responder helping municipalities, Via helped evacuate residents in Estes Park and Lyons from wildfires this summer.

We expect to continue operating more public transit in the coming years, including fixed-route and microtransit options for the public. Just as important, Via will be impacting the entire community with an ambitious environmental goal: Net-Zero Transit.

Net-Zero Transit

  1. By 2030, the City of Boulder’s HOP public transit buses, operated and maintained by Via, will be transformed to operate with near-zero tailpipe emissions. Four of the 17 HOP buses are now electric.
  2. By 2035, Via’s smaller paratransit vehicles will also operate with net-zero emissions.
  3. Via is addressing our facility needs to accommodate these changes. Currently, we are on our way to reaching that goal–and you can help!

Donations to Via’s Net Zero Fund will help convert our fleets to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy. To accomplish this, Via will capture and store solar energy onsite to charge their buses. The project involves converting Via’s Boulder facility into a microgrid equipped with a solar panel carport structure and charging stations for the fleet.

Phase one of the project began with the delivery of three new battery-electric buses for Boulder’s HOP route. Once the HOP buses are all-electric, Via will start converting their smaller buses and vans used for paratransit, shuttle services, and microtransit. Eventually, Via will add another microgrid-powered facility in the Denver Metro region. We are planning ahead to future-proof these facilities to adapt quickly to new or improved renewable technologies.

Our Net Zero transit goal will involve a capital fundraising campaign that includes federal and state grants, private foundations, corporate giving, and individual philanthropy.

As with Ride Free Lafayette, we hope to partner with local governments to provide on-demand, shared-ride public transit across our service area. We want to make all of our transportation options accessible, equitable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable. A strong transit system is essential to building an equitable, sustainable community. By making public transit convenient, comfortable, and reliable, many in our community may decide to drive less or give up their cars entirely.

As Via’s CEO Frank W. Bruno said, “Via both serves the community and shares its values. We believe mobility is a basic human right. We also believe that our organization has an obligation to those we serve and our neighbors to address climate change and care for the environment.”

If you would like to get involved with our Net Zero Fund, please contact Zoe DeVito at zdevito@viacolorado.org or by phone at 720-507-8606.

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