Ben Franklin Transit

Ben Franklin Transit Takes a Historical Step Toward the Future of Transit

With the help of a CALSTART grant that was directed to Washington state by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Franklin Transit is working with Southern California-based Complete Coach Works to develop an all-electric remanufactured transit bus that has the capability of going more than 100 miles.

While an electric bus is innovative in itself, CCW is taking it one step further by significantly reducing the carbon footprint involved with building a transit bus by remanufacturing an existing bus into like-new condition, reducing capital expenditures in the process. Not only are carbon emissions reduced through this approach, but landfill pollution is reduced as well. When Ben Franklin Transit heard about this environmentally sustainable approach and what CCW was doing, the agency became part of a demonstration program and committed one of its buses.

“This is great news for Tri-Cities residents and businesses,” said Senator Murray. “As chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, I was proud to help direct this funding to Washington state, and pleased that the bus will be operating soon in the Tri-Cities. I applaud the entire Ben Franklin Transit team for their work and I look forward to seeing the bus on Tri-City streets in the new year.”

Tim Fredrickson, general manager of Ben Franklin Transit is excited that the Tri-Cities agency was selected for the demonstration project. “At Ben Franklin Transit we are very happy to be a part of this project. We have been involved in another alternative energy demonstration and we have never been shy about experimenting with applications that make sense for the industry. However, this demonstration project may prove to be the future of electric public transportation for the next generations. We have long thought that the 'holy grail' of transportation is a non-polluting, heavy-duty, long-range battery and electric motor combination.

"At BFT our board of directors and staff are 100 percent committed to this project and are excited to be a part of our industry’s future. We especially wish to express our appreciation to Complete Coach Works for that insight and development of this proposal, to CalStart for their understanding of the needs of our industry, and to Senator Murray for her vision of a new transportation future.”

Mike Kluse, director, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory stated, “PNNL has done extensive research on how electric vehicles can be widely adopted with minimal impact on the US electric grid, so we are thrilled to see more EVs in our community. PNNL is eager to participate in BFT’s electric bus project.

“Remanufacturing is a perfect solution to the industry’s current problems,” believes Macy Neshati, VP of Sales and Marketing at CCW. “It reduces waste at land-fills, transforms buses into like-new condition and is nearly half the cost of a new bus.”

Neshati thinks that the topic of zero-emission technology in general will only be successful if it is made viable and competitive. “Our research started with a defined goal to develop a remanufactured all-electric transit bus, one which agencies can afford and operate without limitations of adjusting their routes, or installing expensive charging stations,” he said. “Our Zero Emission Propulsion System, dubbed 'ZEPS' for short, is the world’s first and only remanufactured all-electric transit bus.”

“This innovative effort helps continue to position the Tri-Cities as a regional and national leader in clean energy technology research and development,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Energy. “The electrification of transportation has the potential to save money on operating costs, while also reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. I congratulate Ben Franklin Transit for its leadership on incorporating cutting-edge energy technology into community transit operations.”

“For the past three years a team of Tri-City individuals have been working with the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative (MCEI) to transform this community into The Energy Hub of the State of Washington,” said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC/MCEI. “This new all-electric bus for Ben Franklin Transit will provide a statement to the rest of Washington state, that the Tri-Cities is very solidly working in the ‘electric vehicle’ arena!”

Ben Franklin Transit’s bus, when completed, will have all electrical components, auxiliary wiring, seats, air conditioning systems and flooring replaced with high quality new parts. The all-electric drive system, motor, controller and advanced Li-ion battery packs will be installed, as will a new, energy efficient air conditioning system. The remanufacturing process is so detailed and complete that the bus will be issued a new title and current year registration. Because CCW made a point to source as many USA parts and components as possible, the bus is “Buy America” compliant.

Ben Franklin Transit, in collaboration with CCW, evaluated the bus route that will benefit the most from the deployment of the electric transit bus. Ben Franklin Transit Route 23/26 is currently a good fit for this all-electric transit bus. Because of frequent stops within a total
8-mile loop and low average speed, the route provides ideal conditions for the regenerative braking-enabled ZEPS bus.

 

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