CARTA May Join With Nashville In Purchase Of New Electric Buses For Transit Routes

Thursday, January 17, 2013

CARTA is exploring the possibility of partnering with Nashville for a joint purchase from a Greenville, S.C., manufacturer of new electric buses for transit routes, officials said Thursday.

Lisa Maragnano, CARTA assistant executive director, said a prototype of the large electric bus manufactured by Proterra Inc. will be on display here soon.

She said the bus charges from the top in two and a half to three minutes, whereas bottom-charging electric buses take up to 15 minutes.

Tom Dugan, CARTA executive director, said such a bus could be used on CARTA's longest route - from downtown to Hamilton Place Mall - perhaps with a charging station at Eastgate.

He said CARTA is planning to purchase 28 new buses, including three of the large electric buses. eight transit buses, six replacement Shuttle electric buses and 11 Care A Van vehicles.

Ms. Maragnano said she went to Greenville to inspect the new buses and was impressed. She said the firm has 43 engineers on staff and is looking to hire six more. Proterra raised $23 million in venture capital in November.

Mr. Dugan said he can envision the day perhaps 20 years down the road when the entire CARTA fleet is electric.

CARTA celebrates its 40th anniversary on Jan. 28 with discount fares, cakes and refreshments.

The annual employee dinner will be Feb. 17 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Mr. Dugan said CARTA is still operating on a tight budget and has trimmed expenses in a number of areas.

There was a major insurance in the health insurance item. He said Cigna initially said the rise would be 30 percent, and it ended up at 14.4 percent.

He said CARTA is looking into the possibility of partnering with the city of Chattanooga on health insurance, noting that the city has its own pharmacy, medical clinic and wellness center.

Officials said the Incline Railway is having the normally very slow January, and the same is expected for February. John Lively, CARTA board member, suggested a promotion that gives "two tickets for the price of one." He said it might encourage more locals to ride the Incline up Lookout Mountain. 


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