HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority is working to replace all of its diesel engine buses with electric battery buses by 2035. The goal is to reduce air pollution across the Tampa Bay area and create more job opportunities.
The plan includes three phases. First, HART will replace 74 diesel buses that are ready for replacement within the next two years. Then, in the next two to five years, HART could replace as many as 44 diesel buses with electric battery buses.
In Phase 3, which is in the next five to ten years, as many as 69 buses could be replaced.
HART was already awarded a $2.7M Bus and Bus Facilities grant from the Federal Transit Administration in August 2020. Federal funding will allow HART to purchase *up to* four electric buses and supporting infrastructure to help further reduce the organization's carbon footprint, according to HART.
Back in August, Representative Kathy Castor talked about how necessary this is.
"The transportation sector is the largest source of emissions in America," she said in a zoom press event with Hillsborough Commissioners Mariella Smith and Patricia Kemp.
Smith said the move will help create additional career opportunities.
"Switching to new technology will create more skilled jobs right here in our community and reducing our carbon footprint is very important," she said.
ABC Action News first got a good idea of what the electric battery buses would look like when prototypes came to downtown Tampa.
Battery-Electric Buses are known for zero-emission, quiet operation and better acceleration for a more comfortable ride, HART representatives said.
Since 2016, HART has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 22%, primarily by shifting from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles.
HART will continue to reduce its inventory of diesel-fueled vehicles over the next few years by transitioning to electric buses as funding such as this becomes available, according to the transit agency.