The Associated Students of the University of Montana recently announced the purchase of two zero-emission, battery-electric buses.

ASUM Office of Transportation Director Jordan Hess said it took about 18 months of studying and vetting different options before deciding to purchase two new electric buses.

"We're making that move for two reasons," Hess said. "The buses are a significant environmental benefit, removing emissions and improving local air quality, but they will provide a significant cost savings over the long run. One of the things about these electric buses, is that they come with a higher up-front cost, but they will save a lot in operating costs over the life of the bus. Each bus will cost about $739,000, but we're estimating pretty conservatively that over the 12 year life of the bus that we'll save about $90,000 per bus."

According to a press release, ASUM aims to finance the buses through the state of Montana’s INTERCAP Loan Program. ASUM received a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is administered by the DEQ. The $163,191 grant aims to improve public health by reducing emissions and particulate matter.

"We're ordering two of them," he said, "They'll be in service for the 2016-2017 academic year. They're all custom built so they'll be moving down the production line this spring, and we look forward to receiving them in late summer."

With approval by the Montana University System Board of Regents, the press release added, the student-led transit agency will be the first in the U.S. to bring fast-charging electric buses to a University fleet.