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NOTEBOOK: DART’s electric bus unveiling touts environmental benefits of zero-emission buses


As you may have heard, the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority publicly unveiled its new electric buses on Oct. 1. 

The buses are part of a pilot program the transit agency is undertaking in a partnership with MidAmerican Energy Co. as it examines its transition from its current diesel fleet to zero-emission buses.

The public unveiling was held both in person at the state’s Judicial Complex and online at DART’s Facebook Page. The in-person experience was chilly and blustery as a strong wind whipped the tarp covering one of the buses until the big reveal.

DART CEO Elizabeth Presutti spoke of the value of electric buses, both for cost savings and for the environment. 

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg also spoke, as did Kathryn Kunert, the vice president of economic connection and integration for MidAmerican Energy.

Other speakers included Mike Hennessy, vice president of sales for Proterra, the company that made the buses, and Russ Trimble, chair of DART’s commission and a member of the West Des Moines City Council. 

They all spoke about the importance of public-private partnerships in making the pilot program a success.

One thing people didn’t hear during the Oct. 1 ceremony was the buses. To punctuate the ceremony — and to show just how quiet the new buses will be — another electric bus pulled into the parking lot, just feet behind the audience, with few people noticing until Presutti pointed it out.

Before the tarp was pulled off the bus, revealing the new, sleeker and more modern vehicle, a ceremonial plugging in was held in place of the more traditional ribbon cutting.

Drivers and maintenance staff are currently being trained on the new buses, which DART officials say should be ready to carry passengers by the first of the year.

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