HOP #15 Has Been Repowered from Diesel to Electric!

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Via celebrated the re-launch of HOP #15 – this 2004 bus was converted from diesel to electric through a partnership between Via and Lightning Systems.

This re-power is the first project of its kind, and this model provides an efficient and cost-effective alternative to replacing the entire HOP fleet with new electric vehicles, which would allow Via the option to electrify the fleet in 2 – 4 years. In contrast, purchasing and securing all new electric vehicles would take close to ten years, and the cost associated with electrification would increase threefold. The HOP, which connects CU, downtown and the 29th Street Mall, is a City of Boulder service operated by Via. The electrification of the HOP fleet will help Boulder reach its Climate Commitment goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.

Earlier this year, HOP #15 had a broken engine and was destined for the landfill until Via connected with Lightning Systems, a global developer of zero-emission solutions for commercial fleets out of Loveland, CO. Lightning Systems created a design from the ground up to recycled the used 2004 bus into a zero-emission vehicle in a few short months for a fraction of the price of a new electric vehicle. This project has the potential to allow more organizations and municipalities to move from diesel or gasoline powered fleets to electric vehicles.

Over the past two years, Via has been working to make their 63rd Street facility more resilient. In 2016, Via was named Boulder’s first Resiliency Hub, leading to a partnership between Via, the City of Boulder, Boulder County and Pos-En, a sustainable engineering firm. Through grants provided by the City of Boulder and Boulder County, Via was able to purchase the solar battery storage and natural gas generator required for off-grid operation, allowing Via to operate independently of the larger utility system to sustain a sheltering facility during a wide-scale disruption.

The installation of this system, designed and built by Pos-En, was completed in early 2018. This project resulted in the creation of a micro-grid which utilizes multiple sources of energy including solar, a CNG generator, solar battery storage and standard electric grid feed designed to be flexible, scalable and adaptable. In early summer 2018, Via began installing additional solar panels and will continue to expand their solar array, utilizing the remaining space on the roof of their facility and other locations on their property. As technology improves and the price of solar, battery storage and other technology continue to fall, Via plans to seize opportunities to leverage sustainability through the growth of their renewable energy portfolio and investment in electric and other clean energy vehicles. Via’s ultimate goal is to have a fleet of zero-emission vehicles that are powered off-grid by renewable energy sources.

“We envision a future in which a resilient and robust community transit network uses electric and other clean energy vehicles to serve all of the transportation needs of our public, connecting individuals to the region as a whole through a system of local and regional transportation options,” said Frank Bruno, Via CEO. “Via has already positioned itself at the table, and in the coming years, we plan to be a leader in the effort towards a more equitable energy future.”