JTA Takes Step Towards Zero-Emissions Future

Feb 2, 2021

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has taken delivery of two electric buses that will soon be going into service.

“The delivery of these zero-emission electric buses is a major milestone for the JTA and brings us closer to achieving our long-term sustainability goals,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer, Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. in an email to WJCT News.

Although the buses won’t generate any tailpipe emissions, they are – at least for now - being powered by JEA’s normal grid, according to JTA spokesman David Cawton II.

The source of electricity used to charge the buses should get cleaner over time as the JEA adds more zero-emissions power generation such as solar and nuclear to its mix.

In 2018, JEA generated 48% of its power with natural gas, with coal being the second leading source at 22%. However, JEA is actively investing in solar and nuclear with a goal of increasing its carbon-neutral energy production to 30% by 2030.

Related: New Sierra Club Report Gives JEA An 'F' For Its Climate Goal

“We believe that electrification is going to be the standard at some point, not just an alternative fuel source. That is why we took this historic first step in 2021, so we are prepared to continue electrifying our fleet in the years ahead,” Ford said.

Pictured is one of the electric buses that the JTA purchased.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Each of the 40-foot buses can seat up to 38 riders, although capacity is being limited to 25 passengers during the pandemic. They’re powered by six batteries for a total power capacity of 444 kWh. That’s enough to go about 150 miles between charges, according to the JTA.

The buses are charged using a propriety system, unlike the Level 2 and Level 3 public charging stations that EV passenger cars use.

The JTA’s Transit Operations Division is currently working on route planning and testing of the buses.

The JTA has purchased 2 electric buses.
Credit JTA

Although not finalized, the JTA expects to place the electric buses in service along different routes, including Route 82: Amazon Shuttle, which goes between the JTA’s Armsdale Park-n-Ride, and the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Northwest Jacksonville.

The buses were built by GILLIG of Livermore, Calif., in collaboration with Cummins of Columbus, Ind., who designed and manufactured the electric propulsion system.Last year the JTA also bought eight compressed natural gas buses.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.