Moving towards sustainable transportation: Transportation District celebrates introduction of electric bus fleet to South Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Tahoe Transportation District along with fundamental local partners celebrated the brand-new electric bus fleet and mobility hub that has been created at Lake Tahoe Community College. The project initially was approved in 2018, and the official ribbon cutting ceremony was held five years later; celebrating the conclusion of the project.
The celebration began with Carl Hasty, District Manager for TTD and MC for the event celebration, thanking the partners that made it possible to bring the new electric bus fleet to fruition. Hasty then introduced the first speaker, Cindy Gustafson, District 5 Supervisor for Placer County, who represented the TTD Board.
“We are here to celebrate a tremendous project that combines environmental improvement, mobility improvement, clean fuel technology, and to really celebrate the partnerships that made it happen.” Gustafson said. “With the growth of climate change and growth of population, we must invest in a sustainable transportation solution that promotes modes of transportation that come together, such as biking, walking, ride shares, micro-mass transit, and electric buses.”
Gustafson continued, stating that it is vital for the South Lake Tahoe community to provide these sustainable transportation solutions in a central hub so these modes of transportation are consistently accessible to community members.
“By creating these hubs, we are expediting community use and modes of transportation, to further educate individuals that these modes of transportation are available and by utilizing them, we are helping the environment,” Gustafson said.
According to the data put together by the TTD, in the first year of electric buses being utilized in the bus fleet, 66,861 miles were driven, saving an estimated 13,372 gallons of diesel fuel. TTD’s use of electric buses has eliminated 300,068 pounds, or 136.11 metric tons of CO2 from Lake Tahoe’s environment.
“Zero-emission buses help move Lake Tahoe toward fulfilling our environmental obligations, and contribute to sustaining a sustainable future,” Gustafson said. “None of these achievements would’ve been possible without these incredible partnerships and collaboration.”
Gustafson continued, acknowledging that the partnerships that made this project come together extend far beyond the local and regional government in the Lake Tahoe basin. The partnerships that made it possible include nonprofits, local businesses, community groups, educational institutions, and the public.
Foundational partners who are responsible for proactively bringing this project together include the TTD, Lake Tahoe Community College, Liberty Utilities, and the Federal Transit Administration.
“These collaborations improve our ability to identify and deliver inclusive projects that benefit a diverse range of challenges faced by the people we serve,” Gustafson said. “We join forces with other organizations to stretch resources and to make sure that we maximize our effectiveness.”
After Gustafson’s speech, Hasty took the stage again, introducing the next speaker for the event, Lindsay Marunic, Senior Director for Liberty Utilities.
Marunic began by stating how vital the brand-new mobility hub is to the South Lake Tahoe community, and how it will proactively serve as an accessible resource in Lake Tahoe. She continued, stating that to make this project possible, Liberty Utilities had to make changes to their power grid.
“Because of the project’s megawatt capacity, we did need to do upgrades to our system, which required a lot of work and engineering,” Marunic stated. “Because of the constraints with COVID, we faced supply chain issues throughout the process. After this project was approved five years ago, it truly proves that ‘it takes a village,’ and proves that the community can really come together to make something important happen.”
To power the overhead chargers for the electric buses, large transformers were sourced by Liberty Utilities, bringing a new power source to the mobility hub to make this project possible.
After Marunic’s speech, Hasty then introduced Jeff DeFranco, President of Lake Tahoe Community College.
DeFranco began by acknowledging the gratitude the college has to be able to host the mobility hub in South Lake Tahoe.
“One thing we saw since day one is that the mobility hub changed things for our students and staff,” DeFranco said. “With the new mobility hub, it’s almost as if you don’t even need to know the schedule. There’s almost always a bus here within 10-20 minutes that’s going in the direction you need to go. This hub has really changed things for our community.”
DeFranco thanked the partners involved in bringing the electric bus fleet to the TTD, and commented on the “power of partnership,” stating how vital it is to make movement in the local community.
Along with the local partnerships, this project was made possible by the grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration, also known as the FTA. The FTA had a local administration staff speaker at the event, Amy Changchien, who touched on the importance of sustainable transportation.
“I am pleased to announce that the FTA is awarding a 3.4 million dollar grant to the TTD to replace four of its aging vehicles, with electric and low-emission buses,” Changchien said. “More than 60,000 buses travel on the streets of America to the smallest towns across the nation, and Lake Tahoe is seeing expansive growth in both local and tourism populations. At FTA, our mission is to improve America’s communities through public transportation.”
Changchien continued, stating that the Lake Tahoe electric bus fleet and new mobility hub is one of 130 projects that was selected across America. Amongst the 130 projects that were accepted across the nation, over 1,700 electric and low-emission buses will be brought on to help aid in sustainable transportation in America.
The event concluded with a reading of decibels between a traditional diesel-powered bus in the TTD fleet in comparison to the new electric bus; and an official ribbon cutting, celebrating the introduction of more sustainable and accessible transportation available in the Lake Tahoe basin.
For more information on the TTD’s new electric buses and mobility hub, visit: https://www.tahoetransportation.org/initiatives/clean-transit/
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