"For me it's a matter of being passionate about what I do professionally, but also being passionate about the community and the people that we serve and being connected in a variety of different ways.
"So all of these things have different connections that ultimately I think allow me to be effective at all of the things that I do. And sometimes the connections will occur in ways that initially you don't really see, but as you weave the activities together they do make a difference.
"So it really is kind of this mosaic of things that come together to make it all happen."
A Different Path
Being a transit agency located in southern California, Foothill Transit can't - as another SoCal director once told me - even sniff diesel fuel for its vehicles. Foothill Transit made the decision to go the compressed natural gas (CNG) route and has made significant strides in that direction.
"Once we made [the decision to go with CNG] we were very purposeful and very aggressive about how quickly we've moved in terms of implementing a CNG fleet," Barnes says. Currently the Foothill Transit has 262 CNG-powered vehicles in its 314-bus fleet and is moving as quickly as it can to replace the remainder.
With new technological advances being made every day, I asked Barnes if they had looked into hybrid vehicles for the Foothill fleet, but he said they were heading down
"a slightly different path."
?Where we?re looking at in terms of the next step in technology is zero-emission all-electric vehicles,? Barnes says.
"And we actually have a project that we're advancing that will implement what we believe is the first fast-charge all-electric vehicle that will be in regular revenue service."
The first of the vehicles, Ecoliners manufactured by Proterra, should be arriving at Foothill Transit very near to when you?re reading this. The initial order is for three buses to operate on Foothill's 291 line, which connects LaVerne to Pamona, which Barnes says is the perfect route for these vehicles.
"In the middle of that line is the Pomona transit center and that will be the location where the fast-charge station will be located," Barnes says.
"The idea is that the bus will come into the Pomona transit center during, essentially, a normal layover for that bus, then will connect to the charging station. The bus will be able to go from a 5 percent to a 95 percent charge in less than 10 minutes.
"And that's the goal for the project. So the idea is that every time you do a trip, you come into the station, you connect to the charging station, you juice up and you keep on going."
Barnes explains that it is this quick-charging process that makes this project so different than others. Instead of exhausting the batteries and taking the vehicle out of service to recharge, it can be done mid-route, keeping the buses moving throughout the day.
If the Ecoliners prove to be as successful as Foothill hopes, the plan is to eventually replace all 12 buses operating on the 291 line to make it entirely electrified. Barnes says from there it's a matter of locating other areas in Foothill's service where the technology and service demands match up and implementing the all-electric service there.
He notes that there are limitations with the all-electric vehicles, the greatest which may be its 40-mile range between charges.
"We're learning. The manufacturer is learning. But we really think it's got great potential in terms of local service where you do have relatively short route lengths and the ability to have layover locations where you can recharge," Barnes says.
"We're really trying to take that goal of a zero-emission, cost-effective vehicle and demonstrate that this technology can accomplish that goal. And that's really been the promise."
The project is fully funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is the first of its kind in the nation. When asked about the operating costs, Barnes admits they believe those will be even lower with the all-electric vehicles. Of course, those vehicles also need to get power from somewhere.
"We are working with Edison, who is the power provider for southern California, for the actual pricing for the power that will power the vehicle," Barnes says.