Protestor at a rally in Utah
Tim DeChristopher Demands Clean Energy (Photo: Spring Allen/Rainforest Action Network, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Good morn­ing from Inter­state 5!

In just a few short hours, the Yes on I‑1631 coali­tion will be sub­mit­ting peti­tions to qual­i­fy to the Novem­ber statewide bal­lot a ground­break­ing ini­tia­tive that would put a price on pol­lu­tion in Wash­ing­ton State and use the rev­enue raised to fund a just and respon­si­ble tran­si­tion to a clean ener­gy economy.

To cel­e­brate the suc­cess­ful sig­na­ture dri­ve for I‑1631 and invite Wash­ing­to­ni­ans to join us in vot­ing YES this Novem­ber, a del­e­ga­tion of activists and lead­ers from coali­tion part­ner orga­ni­za­tions are trav­el­ing togeth­er to Olympia on a bat­tery-pow­ered Pro­ter­ra Cat­a­lyst E2 elec­tric bus.

We left our gath­er­ing point near the Rainier Beach Link Light Rail Sta­tion about twen­ty min­utes ago and are cur­rent­ly pass­ing through Fife.

As we made our way south on I‑5, I talked to Pro­ter­ra’s Rich Feld­man about our high-tech means of get­ting to the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex.

Feld­man told me the Pro­ter­ra Cat­a­lyst E2 debuted sev­er­al months ago and is in ser­vice with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent agen­cies across the coun­try, notably in Cal­i­for­nia. Since sales began, Pro­ter­ra has signed up six­ty-nine cus­tomers who have com­mit­ted to buy­ing near­ly six hun­dred Cat­a­lyst bus­es with no tailpipes.

King Coun­ty has a total of four bus­es cur­rent­ly in rev­enue service.

Pro­ter­ra’s web­site says the fleet it has deliv­ered to King Coun­ty has accu­mu­lat­ed 268,664 fleet miles dri­ven since Jan­u­ary 1st, 2016.

Over 75% of the com­po­nents for these Cat­a­lyst bus­es are sourced from North Amer­i­ca„ the com­pa­ny says, with parts and equip­ment com­ing from more than thir­ty-four of the fifty states — impres­sive in a day and age when so much man­u­fac­tur­ing has migrat­ed abroad.

The Cat­a­lyst sports a pur­pose-built com­pos­ite body with bat­tery packs posi­tioned under the floor of the bus, giv­ing it the abil­i­ty to get the equiv­a­lent of twen­ty-four miles to the gal­lon. (For the sake of com­par­i­son, a diesel-pow­ered bus like the kind com­mon­ly in use in our region can typ­i­cal­ly get four miles to the gal­lon, while a hybrid can get five. Pro­ter­ra’s bus­es are much more efficient.)

Although the Cat­a­lyst has a high­er upfront cost, its main­te­nance costs are dras­ti­cal­ly less than a tra­di­tion­al diesel bus. The Cat­a­lyst has 30% few­er parts and can offer sub­stan­tial oper­a­tional sav­ings to a tran­sit agency.

Cat­a­lyst bus­es are engi­neered to last at least twelve years and the bat­ter­ies rat­ed to last for at least six years pri­or to pos­si­bly need­ing replacement.

The Cat­a­lyst E2 offers four hun­dred and forty kilo­watt hours onboard, giv­ing it a range of about one hun­dred and forty miles in aver­age con­di­tions. It takes about four hours to charge the bat­ter­ies after they have been most­ly depleted.

Actu­al range, of course, varies based on weath­er, road con­di­tions, and the num­ber of pas­sen­gers on board. But a bus that can go over a hun­dred miles with­out need­ing a recharge is a bus that is ver­sa­tile enough to han­dle many routes.

The bus we’re trav­el­ing on is owned by Pro­ter­ra, which is fronting the costs of today’s jour­ney to Olympia as an in-kind con­tri­bu­tion to the Yes on I‑1631 coali­tion. Pro­ter­ra rep­re­sen­ta­tives say that their mis­sion is to pro­vide clean, reli­able, advanced mass trans­porta­tion at all using the lat­est technology.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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