TARC tests electric buses downtown, prepares to replace trolleys
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – TARC's new electric buses are traveling downtown streets, but they won't be carrying passengers for several weeks.
TARC drivers are currently testing the ZeroBus along its regular downtown routes. Meanwhile, engineers are finishing installation and testing two charging stations.
"We don't want to get these buses out here on the route and then all of a sudden there is something wrong with the charging station and then it gets stuck out here,” said TARC spokesperson Jon Reiter. “We want to make sure there are no I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed when these things get out here."
The buses won't start picking up passengers until after January 1.
The goal of the all-electric buses is to replace the green trolleys. The trolleys will only be used during the Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop, and eventually will be phased out all together.
“The trolleys that you see out on the road now are really our poorest performing fuel efficient vehicles,” said Reiter. “They get somewhere between three to four miles per gallon."
TARC officials say the ZeroBus needs to charge for ten minutes every hour. In testing, the bus has had no problems running its full 30 minute route without needing to recharge.
The two charging stations are located at S. 3rd and York Streets, and Market Street in between 7th and 8th Streets.
Engineers from Proterra, the South Carolina-based company that makes the buses, were in Louisville this week to make sure the charging stations are working correctly.
TARC officials said about 20 percent of their drivers are going through a multi-week training to learn how to operate and charge the buses, as well as recognize when there is a problem with charging.
"It's a completely different way to drive a bus that some of our drivers will probably be unaccustomed to,” said Reiter.
The ten buses and two charging stations cost TARC $11 million dollars -- with ten buses, that's about $1 million dollars per bus -- and TARC still needs to secure another $2 million.
TARC said $9 million has come from state and federal grants. Metro Louisville has also given around $500,000. But TARC still needs to secure another $2 million. Reiter would not say where they plan to get the rest of the funds.
"We're still continuing to look for partnerships and all that, but these buses will be out here,” he said.
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