"One of the challenges we face is because it is a fast charge - unlike a slow-charge vehicle that you plug in overnight when the electric demands are lower - we will be doing the fast charge during the day, which is a higher demand for electric power. So Edison is one of our partners in terms of putting this together and really this is new territory for them as well.
"It's one of the issues we are working through as we work through this first three-bus program and we look to expand it to something that is bigger."
Barnes says they aren't ruling out any type of alternative fuel just because they have decided to proceed with an all-electric alternative for this project.
"I think there are a lot of questions being explored related to fuel technology. We don't know all the answers to those questions yet, but we're very, very carefully and methodically exploring them - again with the goal of being a zero-emission vehicle.
"We're definitely at the tip of the spear, but it's a pretty exciting project to see this going forward."
Foothill Transit may be breaking new ground with its all-electric vehicles in 2010, but it's not the first time the system has gotten attention for implementing new projects. It was just three years ago it implemented its first bus rapid transit (BRT) route, the Silver Streak, but transit moves pretty quickly these days.
"It seems so long ago. It seems like 100 years ago," Barnes says about the BRT route's implementation.
The Silver Streak runs along I-10, the backbone of Foothill?s system and as Barnes explains, was designed to, "take some services that we?d already operated, but weren't as quick or as easy to understand in terms of how it connected to the communities and to use the Silver Streak as the spine that then connects all the various local services that we have throughout our service area.
"That was the initial genesis of what became the Silver Streak — to do something that was very easy to understand. That was quicker in terms of its movement from location to location. That got customers to connecting locations that then they could access the local services and ultimately get to their final destination."
The Silver Streak route is Foothill's longest, running from Montclair into downtown Los Angeles with several stops along the way. Barnes says due to its length the electric bus application couldn?t be applied due to the current state of technology.
"Down the road maybe we?ll get there, but for right now CNG is a tried-and-true fuel choice that we are using on that line," Barnes says.
The Silver Streak is Foothill?s only line using 60-foot articulated coaches, giving it a distinctive look and presence than the regular local service, which helped customers to identify with the new service.
"If you were a customer before and needed to go somewhere you could still get there with the implementation of the Silver Streak," Barnes says.
"Depending on where you needed to go you could get there a whole lot faster. It really was kind of a reconceptualization of parts of the service in terms of how we put the whole thing together."
Technology is a key factor in how Foothill Transit is planning for the future and it's no wonder that Barnes thinks that, "technology is one of those issues that is really driving our business in terms of both opportunities and challenges."
One of the ways Foothill is taking advantage of this is to implement a "soup-to-nuts" global positioning system that allows it to track its vehicles, dispatch them automatically and, most importantly to Barnes, keep an eye on everything that is happening in the agency.
"We actually first implemented with cameras in certain locations. We've subsequently, through experience, added even more. The idea being that you've got some record to see what happened on a vehicle if something does happen," Barnes says.
Barnes says this record has a variety of uses, including training, collision investigation and just about any other safety matters that come into play.
"It has really helped in terms of being able to look at what is really going on within the system," he admits.