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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

TARC Rolls Out New Hybrid Buses

Monday August 5, 2013

Fleet upgrade provides room for more bikes

TARC continues to modernize its fleet with 11 new environmentally-friendly hybrid electric buses now on the road. These latest models feature new bike racks that can hold three, instead of two, bikes.

TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker, Mayor Greg Fischer and bike riders were at TARC’s Union Station today to celebrate the latest additions to the fleet.

TARC now has 32 hybrid electric buses, about 15 percent of the fleet. Since last spring, another 16 buses – “clean diesels” with the latest fuel conserving and emissions-limiting technology – also joined the fleet. And this fall, TARC will put an additional 21 new buses in service.

All new buses are replacing buses that are 14 or 15 years old and have traveled more than 500,000 miles each. Federal and state grant funding is covering the bulk of the costs of the fleet upgrades.

“By this fall, 25 percent of our buses will be new and that means cleaner air and a better riding experience for passengers, along with other benefits including significant fuel and maintenance cost savings,” Barker said.

“A big bonus is that, starting with the new hybrids, we’ll be adding the new three-bike racks to our buses to help meet the growing popularity of bikes onboard.”

Fischer said the hybrid electric buses and room for more bikes helps “ achieve many of our city’s strategic goals including a cleaner, green city, better public transit and better infrastructure for bikes.”

A hybrid bus uses battery electric power to accelerate, which greatly reduces emissions, eliminates tailpipe smoke, and allows the bus to go up hills without revving the engine. Since there is less demand on the engine, the ride is much quieter.

Fuel saving for the 11 buses compared to vehicles they will replace is estimated at $6,000 per vehicle, totaling $66,000 per year.

TARC’s Bikes On Board program began in 1999 and by 2002 every TARC bus was equipped with a two-position rack. Since TARC began keeping statistics on bike rack users in 2002, ridership and usage of bike racks has almost tripled, from nearly 48,000 riders in 2002 to 140,000 in 2012.

Local author and cycling advocate Joe Ward said the new racks are one more example of Louisville becoming a more bicycle-friendly community.

“TARC’s addition of bike racks to the busses was about the first big nod cycling enthusiasts got from Metro government, and it’s been steady progress ever since,” Ward said. “I remember Barry Barker saying he was astonished by the response to the program. The one complaint was that there weren’t enough of them. Soon they were on every bus, and now we’re going to three-bike racks – it’s all good.”