What are our options for electric transportation?

At the time of the MT Solar Powered Transportation Initiative, the City of Whitefish had a population of around 7,500 people and did not have a municipal transportation system, with limited local public transit service. Despite being a small town (by population), the community suffered from traffic congestion due to local tourism destinations. The community’s proximity to Whitefish Mountain — a very popular ski resort — and to Glacier National Park have opened the door to creative partnership opportunities. As they considered expanding a transit system, they sought to identify green transportation options and begin discussions on how they may be able to partner with shuttle routes to the ski area and Glacier National Park.


Population: 7,608 (approx. 2019)

Major energy providers: Flathead Electric Cooperative (rural electric co-op)

Solar market status: At the time of this Initiative, Whitefish had a small solar market. There were several solar installation businesses operating out of the greater Whitefish/Kalispell area. They were all small businesses with a few employees.

EV market status: At the time of this Initiative, Flathead County ranked second among Montana counties for EV registrations and Whitefish was not host to municipal electric public transit vehicles.

Other notable community features: Whitefish is one of the “gateway” communities to Glacier National Park; home to Big Mountain, a popular ski resort.

Use case top priorities: Electric buses with depot charging and fleet vehicles with workplace charging.

Technical Analysis provided by the Initiative: Described considerations for battery electric bus deployment and options for compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, and diesel hybrid electric public transit. Discussed what EV bus options exists, which charging technologies may pair best, and what cost/benefit tradeoffs to consider.

More information on the Whitefish case study can be found on pg. 48 of the Roadmap. Download the Roadmap.