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Foothill Transit Introduces The Hybrid Of The Future

Aja Dang |
September 7, 2010 | 11:32 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The Ecoliner (Aja Dang)
The Ecoliner (Aja Dang)
The hybrid car has a new, bigger, badder counterpart to help with the fight for a cleaner earth.

The Foothill Transit Ecoliner is the world's first heavy-duty, electric-powered bus. It can carry 68 passengers, drive 30-miles without charging, and can recharge in less than 10 minutes at an in route docking station. By utilizing quick charging lithium ion batteries and light-weight fiberglass, the Ecoliner is the world's only vehicle that does not emit gas.

Foothill Transit will begin testing the Ecoliner in San Gabriel and Pomona. These preliminary tests will help the city decide whether or not to continue with the project.

“We’re putting it in the toughest service. We’re going to run it as hard as we can,” said Roger Chandler, chairman of the Foothill Transit Board.

The Transit Board will be looking closely at the vehicle’s lifecycle cost. Each prototype costs around $1 million — twice the amount of a regular bus. With less government funding going to transit, Foothill needs to ensure they get the most bang for their buck.

Jeff Granato, CEO of Proterra LLC, the company that engineered the Ecoliner, is confident that the new buses are economically beneficial. According to Granato, comapnies will save more than $400,000 per vehicle in fuel costs over a 12-year period. Ecoliners also require less maintenance.

For Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, the Ecoliner is an opportunity to provide jobs for some of the 9.6 percent of Americans who are currently unemployed. The Ecoliner is built mostly in the United States, with 80 percent of its content coming from 23 states. Napolitano hopes that California will soon get involved in green manufacturing.

“I look forward to working with my friends on both sides of the aisle to bring not only the technology, but the funding to be able to start manufacturing in our area and get those jobs,” she said.

The development of the Ecoliner has already provided 1,300 assembly jobs in South Carolina. In time, Foothill Transit hopes to become 100 percent domestic, assisting in future job growth nationwide.

Along with striving for a purely domestic workforce, the Foothill Transit Board wants to further reduce the carbon footprint of the Ecoliner by using renewable energy sources to power their power plants. Sources would include wind, solar and geothermal energy.

By reducing their independence on foreign oil and increasing their use of renewable energies, Foothill Transit hopes that other transit services will take notice and develop their own eco-friendly buses.

Granato insists that the Ecoliner can replace diesel buses one-for-one and will do so without compromising the bus schedule, service, or cost to customers.

“The FTA was looking for the bus of tomorrow, but what they got was the bus of 20 years from tomorrow," he said.


Reach reporter Aja Dang here.



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