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City of Knoxville receives $4.8 million federal grant for more electric transit buses

Officials said that KAT's goal is to have the entire 71-bus fleet running on electricity in about eight years.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — City leaders gave the Knoxville Area Transit the green light to buy four new, fully electric buses in December 2019. Now, the City of Knoxville received a $4.8 million federal grant in July for electronic buses, KAT said that by January 2022, it will have 12 electric buses. 

This is just the beginning of Knoxville's plan to have all-electric KAT buses by 2030.

Spanish Version: Ciudad de Knoxville recibe subvención federal de $4.8 millones para más autobuses eléctricos

"Not only are they remarkably quiet and a smooth ride, but all of the passenger seats will have USB chargers continuing that electric theme," Belinda Woodiel-Brill, the director of planning and public information, said. "There's going to be a lot of great conveniences associated with the vehicle and riding it so we hope the public will enjoy it as much as we are excited about it."

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KAT did announce that its first electric bus was officially up and running on Thursday, May 13.

The bus, however, isn't on the streets of Knoxville just yet. The fleet will have to go through extensive tests before arriving in Scruffy City.

According to KAT, the buses have a range of at least 150 miles, which will help fulfill the City of Knoxville's action plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

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"Riding an electric vehicle is a huge energy and carbon saving measure than driving alone," Woodiel-Brill said. "So we hope that once we start getting them out on the street the public will continue to be excited about them."

According to the Argonne National Laboratory, electronic buses are about three times more fuel-efficient than standard diesel buses.

“This will go a long way in helping KAT transition to an all-electric fleet,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “With each new electric bus, we are reducing our carbon footprint. We are moving closer toward our goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions associated with City operations."

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty and Rep. Tim Burchett also showed support when the City’s applied for the federal grant.

The Low and No Emission Vehicle Grant Program supports transit agencies in purchasing or leasing low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles that use advanced technologies to provide cleaner, more energy-efficient transit services in communities across the country.