LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 19, 2012) — All-electric buses with zero air-polluting emissions will become part of Louisville’s public transportation fleet as a result of a $4.4 million federal grant awarded to TARC (The Transit Authority of River City).
“This puts TARC at the leading edge of high-technology, cleaner, greener buses,” said TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker. “We can’t wait to get them on the road and we think passengers will love the ride.”
The grant, from the Federal Transit Administration Clean Fuels Program, will pay for five electric buses that will replace the oldest, high emissions trolleys now circulating downtown along Fourth Street and the Main-Market corridor. The electric buses are expected to be in operation in about a year.
Congressman John Yarmuth said he was proud to support the grant application and thrilled that TARC was successful in a highly competitive selection. Out of 146 grant applications totaling $516 million, the FTA selected 27 projects totaling $59.3 million.
“This federal investment in new technologies is not just about improving public transportation in Louisville; it is also a down payment on ensuring healthier, cleaner air, and a more energy independent future,” Yarmuth said.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said all-electric buses “represent a game change for public transportation in downtown Louisville and the type of progress and forward-thinking focus we are embracing to improve our city.”
The city’s historic replica “Toonerville” trolleys have helped downtown’s revitalization over the years and all-electric buses can help take the city to the next level, he said.
In a post about the grant awards on his blog, “FastLane,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called all-electric buses “cutting-edge, innovative” and “tailor-made for our 21st century energy future.”
TARC’s 14 diesel-fueled trolleys are the least environmentally friendly vehicles in the fleet. They average 14 years of age and 500,000 miles of service, have high maintenance costs and cannot be replaced because they are no longer manufactured.
“The air quality improvements with the electric vehicles will be significant,” Barker said.
For example, the five oldest trolleys combined now emit a total of about 1,135 pounds of carbon monoxide in a year, compared to zero emissions from the all-electric buses. The electric buses will also save TARC thousands of dollars each year in lower operating costs. In fuel costs alone, each electric bus will save TARC an estimated $10,000 per year.
The electric buses are also significantly less expensive to maintain than trolleys. Electric bus technology has been tested and proven reliable, Barker said. One type of electric bus manufactured in South Carolina can travel 30 miles on a fully charged battery and can be recharged in 10 minutes at an on-route charging station.
The FTA said it awarded grants based on a project’s ability to help communities achieve federal air quality standards while supporting emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses.
Under previous federal grants, TARC also will add 39 new buses to replace old buses now operating throughout TARC’s five-county service area. The new buses will include 28 diesel buses with the latest air quality and fuel conserving technology and 11 hybrid-electric buses. The buses are scheduled to begin arriving this spring.