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Jefferson City considers electric buses

by Nicole Roberts | September 27, 2017 at 5:05 a.m. | Updated September 27, 2017 at 3:19 p.m.

Jefferson City officials are considering using electric buses in the future.

During Tuesday's Jefferson City Public Transit Advisory Committee, Transit Director Mark Mehmert said he wants to demo an electric bus since several current JeffTran buses are reaching the end of their life expectancy. By using a demo electric bus, he said, staff can see if it would handle the city's topography.

"There's pros and cons to changing technology, and we want to explore this option as part of our due diligence," Mehmert said. "The program has to be very specific to handle certain grades, and so that's one of the things that would be a challenge for this bus. So it'll be interesting to see how that all plays out."

He hopes to have a demo electric bus at the Oct. 17 public meeting when the Capital Area Metropolitian Organization will present recommended improvements to the JeffTran system. Earlier this year, CAMPO and the Transit Division started a JeffTran system wide assessment to identify potential improvements.

Transit staff is also working with contractor DoubleMap to implement automatic vehicle locator (AVL), automatic voice annunciator (AVA) and automatic passenger counter (APC) equipment to JeffTran.

The AVL will allow riders to track the buses' locations. The AVA will help riders with visibility impairments hear announcements about upcoming stops, and signs will allow riders with hearing impairments to read announcements. With the APC, JeffTran administrators can monitor how many riders are boarding and leaving the buses at each location.

Mehmert does not know when the new system will be implemented, but city staff was providing data to DoubleMap to help move forward.

The Jefferson City Council approved a five-year contact with DoubleMap in July. In June, the council authorized the city to enter into a Capital Assistance Grant Agreement for up to $256,000 with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The grant is from the Federal Transit Administration's buses and bus facilities grant program funds.

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