Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seneca Bus System Goes Free and Green

The City of Seneca has received a grant from the FTA to be the first in the nation to be a totally Electric Bus System. Proterra, the leading maker of zero-emission commercial transit solutions, was named by the City of Seneca as the intended manufacturer to build the city’s next generation of transit buses.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded last year $112 million in clean fuels and TIGGER (Transit Investments in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction) grants. 

The City of Seneca received one of 46 awards and received a TIGGER grant from the FTA for approximately $4.1 million.

During a press conference at City Hall, local and state officials shared their plans to use these funds, along with additional public and private funding, to replace Seneca’s current diesel buses with 35-foot, fast charge battery electric buses built locally by Proterra in Greenville, S.C.  

In a letter to Seneca officials, Al Gore congratulated them on a choice that will have both a positive impact the environmental as well as U.S. job creation.

Its exciting days in Seneca” said Mayor Dan Alexander, “the City of Seneca will be the first in the nation to be a totally Electric Bus System.” City Administrator Greg Diettrick added “The best is yet to come. Stay tuned for bigger events coming to our city.”

Clemson Area Transit (CATbus) general manager Al Babinicz shared “We hope eventually as the battery technology improves over time to eventually expand the all-electric concept to other areas like Clemson University, the city of Clemson and beyond.”


Workshop Augusta Public Transit (APT) - Augusta Richmond County Commission, before awarding Mobility the contract to operate the APT.

Mobility Transit web site: “Going green” is more than just a trendy business practice – it’s a growing responsibility. Engaging in public transit, either as a rider or operator, is already inherently “green” due primarily to the reduced number fuel-burning vehicles on our roads. However, MOBILITY is committed to taking our transit operations’ sustainability efforts beyond just the obvious “green” benefits of reduced traffic. 

Wherever possible, MOBILITY will explore and consider the benefits of utilizing alternative fuel sources, will strive to be a “paperless” organization, and will encourage the practice of recycling at all its operations. We are also committed to spreading the message of the benefits of public transit, and fully support the American Public Transit Association (APTA) in its efforts.

We are excited to work collaboratively with transit authorities to identify cost-efficient and responsible “green” solutions in our transit operations, including the identification of ways to increase ridership!"

In a response obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, Mobility Transit Services LLC blames some of the problems on other parties, including the city itself, and denies others but does acknowledge a few errors.

Late bill payments to Georgia Power, for instance, resulted after the city switched its transit power accounts to Mobility and some of the accounts “fell through the cracks and were not transferred,” said the letter from Mobility’s Augusta attorney, Beth McLeod.

Mobility attributes another late-payment issue to billing irregularities on the part of Executive Janitorial, which was hired to clean the buses. It says those irregularities include Executive’s “hounding” for early payment because the company was “in dire need of the money to cover payroll.”

Mobility also asserts that issues with monthly reporting of drug testing, bus accidents and equal employment opportunity concerns mentioned in the May 7 notice were remedied by the time the notice was sent.

In response to the city’s allegation that it did not address the concerns of a disabled rider, Mobility said that the rider raised different concerns with the company from what he did in a subsequent communication with the city’s EEO office and that he canceled two meetings arranged with Mobility General Manager Mike Rosson.

Surprisingly or astonishingly, Mobility Transit did not mention one sentence about the riders issues and their concerns about improving the service in all aspects of the transit system, after 9 months under their watch and after 3 years since riders activists started the movement to improve the service. 


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