The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Knoxville electric bus fleet expands; furthers city efforts to reduce its carbon footprint

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Grant to expand electric fleet will help city advance its emissions-reduction goals

The federal government kicked down a $4.8 million grant to Knoxville for additional electric transit buses. It will expand the current Knoxville Area Transit electric fleet by six vehicles, the city announced July 12. That means KAT could have a total of 18 electric buses operating on routes across the city by the end of next year.

The funds were disbursed from the federal Low and No Emission Vehicle Grant Program, which helps municipal transit agencies acquire low- or zero-emission buses and other transit vehicles, according to the city. Sen. Bill Hagerty and Rep. Tim Burchett supported the grant application. 

KAT wants to electrify its entire 71-bus fleet within eight years. 

“This will go a long way in helping KAT transition to an all-electric fleet,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said in the news release. “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 by 50 percent by 2030 — and a communitywide reduction of 80 percent by 2050.”  

The grant furthers a city goal of replacing aging KAT diesel buses “with state-of-the-art electric buses that are about three times more fuel-efficient than a standard diesel bus (13 MPGDE vs. 4.4 MPG),” according to the city. 

“Knoxville Area Transit provides an important service for folks in Knoxville, which is why earlier this year I asked the Federal Transit Administration to give KAT’s Low-No application grant full consideration,” Burchett said in the city release. “I’m glad this grant was awarded to our community so KAT can modernize its fleet to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.” 

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