LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville was the first to run the original fleet of Toonerville II Trolleys that gave downtown its charm. The distinctive look of the trolleys made them very popular for weddings, outings and city events.
Monday Louisville marked a new first by getting rid of its green trolleys with replacing them with 10 new ZeroBus vehicles.
Louisville is the first city in the mid-west or the upper south to put this future fleet on the road. The fleet of ZeroBuses will also be one of the largest in the country and what we won't have with this new convoy is just as important.
Bus driver and instructor Daniel Ridener said, "I'm used to smelling bus exhaust. It goes with the territory."
But times are changing and so is the River City Transit Authority. Gone are the days of the little green trolley with 10, 136 pounds of carbon monoxide emission. The new ZeroBus taking its place lives up to its name. Zero carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds or nitrogen oxide.
Barry Barker with TARC said, "There's no pollution being emitted in downtown."
At least not from the 10 new ZeroBuses that will take over the trolley route.
"You know it'll run for 30 miles and then it needs to be charged," said Barker.
Charged at one of the high capacity chargers on its route where it will automatically connect as it pulls in.
Barker said, "So essentially what we'll start out with is once every loop it's gonna pull in and charge."
The bus will recharge as passengers load and unload.
"It gets a little juice every time it goes by here and away it will go," he said.
With the high cost of diesel fuel and maintenance the savings will add up to $110,000 per year in fuel and an annual savings in parts and repairs of $200,000. Plus, saving two-thirds of the emissions of the current trolleys even when figuring in the coal burned to generate the power.
Barker said, "The trolleys that these buses are replacing are the most polluting vehicles."
According to Ridener, "It's definitely a good idea. It's an idea whose time has come."
Barker said, "We're asking people to come out and have some fun riding."
Each bus was made in America and can hold 31 passengers. The ZeroBus does not have tailpipe smoke or a roaring engine. They are actually pretty quiet.