Airline travelers at RDU will soon be able to catch quieter, more environmentally friendly shuttle rides to and from the airport’s terminals via electric-powered buses.

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority announced Thursday that four electric buses are expected to be introduced into service in late May.

A close up of a new RDU electric bus (RDU photo)

Four Proterra Catalyst E2 buses were purchased for some $3.4 million. RDU noted that nearly half the cost was covered by using federal grant funding.

The buses have a capacity of 40 passengers and stretch more than 42 feet in length.

GoTriangle plans to add two Proterra buses to its fleet later this year.

“RDU’s new electric buses will provide a quieter, eco-friendly transportation experience for our customers,” said Michael Landguth, RDU’s CEO, said in a statement.

“We’re most excited about the environmental benefits these buses provide, and we hope other institutions will follow our lead in adding electric vehicles to their fleets.”

The buses are quieter and also provide faster acceleration, RDU noted. They also could generate savings of as much as $350,000 over the lifetime of service compared to diesel buses, the authority said.

They will be used for the most part to shuttle passengers from economy parking lots.

Inside a new RDU electric bus (RDU photo)

According to RDU, the buses are part of an Airport Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle (ZEV) and Infrastructure Pilot Program that launched in 2012. This “allows airports such as RDU to use federal Airport Improvement Program funds to purchase zero-emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure, and provides grant funds for up to 50 percent of those costs.”

John Kane is new RDU chair

Also on Thursday, Triangle developer John Kane was elected chair of the RDU Airport Authority board of directors. He has been vice chair for the past two years and has been a member of the board since 2013.

Other new officers include Patrick Hannah as vice chair, Sepideh Saidi as secretary and Robert D. Teer, Jr. as treasurer.

“I am honored to lead a board that reflects the diverse interests of the communities we represent and shares the unified goal of providing a world-class airport experience that meets the region’s aviation demands,” Kane said in a statement.