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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENV 312 Sustainable Solutions


Environmental Science and Policy


Climate change will exacerbate the Pioneer Valley’s existing smog problem and diminish

the overall quality of life. Climate change is caused by anthropogenic activities that release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and the transportation sector in the United States being one of the largest contributors of CO2. Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) has the opportunity to be a leader in climate change mitigation by incorporating more low carbon alternatives into its organization, whether it be in its fleet or buildings.

We conducted a carbon footprint and fuel costs analysis to determine where FRTA would benefit the most from low carbon alternatives. Since FRTA’s fleet was the biggest contributor to CO2 emissions and that the fleet was the most expensive to fuel, FRTA should consider low carbon options in its fleet.

We conducted a spatial analysis in arcGIS to test the feasibility of an electric bus and a cost analysis to evaluate the cost of an electric bus relative to hybrids and diesel buses. A spatial analysis was not necessary for hybrid and diesel buses because FRTA already uses those vehicle types. The main concern with electric buses is the question of their ability to operate in rural areas. Route 21 is the best fit for an electric bus, and the hybrid bus that currently services Route 21 should be rerouted to Route 32. Our cost analysis included the following categories: capital cost of vehicle and infrastructure, maintenance costs, fuel costs, the social cost of carbon, and the social cost of air pollution. Electric buses are the most financially sound option for FRTA.

We recommend that FRTA should adopt electric buses. This study’s finding aligns with the nationwide trend of transit authorities’ incorporation of electric buses. Since FRTA is already in contact with a popular bus manufacturer, we also outlined some talking points for FRTA.


©2017 Michelle Mei


This project report summarizes the semester-long efforts of group members to identify a problem in sustainability; gather background information; collect data through surveys, interviews, or experiments; analyze results, and report findings to the public in an oral presentation. Each member of the group was required to submit a separate written report. This student’s report was selected by the course’s professor to represent the project.

Project group members:

Michelle Mei

Eleanore Colgan Gao Xi Powell

Elizabeth Carper