Tampa, Florida secures federal grant to deploy four electric buses

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), which serves the Tampa, Florida, metropolitan area, has secured a $2.7-million federal grant to buy four electric buses, which are expected to be in service in two years.

The federal grant will cover half the total project cost, which also includes underground wiring and charging stations. HART and local utility Tampa Electric (TECO) will provide the balance of the funding.

HART’s current fleet consists of 269 buses and vans, including 114 CNG buses. The four e-buses will replace four existing diesel buses, which typically average 50,000 miles annually and last an average of 10.2 years. HART  Director of Communications Carson Chambers told the Tampa Bay Times that HART will continue to replace legacy diesel buses over the next few years as funding becomes available.

The procurement process for the four e-buses is just beginning, Ms. Chambers told Charged. She said the agency has not yet chosen a vendor, but that so far, Gillig and Proterra have been vetted. HART expects its e-buses to have a range of about 150 miles, and plans to use them on some of Hillsborough County’s busiest routes.

John Edmondson, HART’s Director of Procurement, told Charged that training, spare parts and charging infrastructure will be some of the factors the agency considers in determining which bus manufacturer to choose. “All operators and mechanics will need to be trained on the use, repair, and maintenance of an electric propulsion system and all of its subsystems,” he said. “The more unique systems and subsystems (braking, fire suppression, power generation, etc.) differ from our current transit vehicles, the more specialized training will be required.”

“Each manufacturer has a unique charging function,” Mr. Edmondson continued. “We need to understand those eccentricities and analyze the infrastructure costs associated with each.  The added charging station or stations will also need to be supplied by our project partner, TECO.  A detailed analysis of the power supply requirements will be needed to inform the location of each charging station.”

Chambers also told us that HART plans to conduct a pilot of an autonomous EV in downtown Tampa, beginning in late summer.

PSTA, which serves neighboring Pinellas County, added two BYD electric buses to its fleet in late 2018, at a cost of about $2.1 million, including a wireless charging system. It plans to add four more this fall.

US Representative Kathy Castor (D-Tampa), who chairs the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, announced the new federal grant. “America needs to make different transportation and infrastructure choices in the years ahead,” she said. “And we have to do so at an enormous scale. That’s why I’m so excited that we’re really getting started here in my hometown.”

“These new zero-emission electric buses will make our air cleaner, and that makes a big difference in the quality of life for so many in our community, whether they ride the bus or not. When we roll out these buses, I know our riders will be proud to say that they have one of the cleanest commutes in Hillsborough County,” said HART Board Chair Mariella Smith.

Source: Tampa Bay Times