If you think the Mocs Express buses seem quieter than usual, don’t worry, your hearing is still good.
Since January, the four shuttle buses at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have been fully electric-powered, and the mechanical grumble of a diesel engine replaced by a smooth hum.
“I think this will be a shift in the near future for most metropolitan areas, and UTC Parking is very excited to be a part of that national conversation,” said David Seidel, associate director of UTC Parking Services.
The electric shuttles are provided by the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and can be identified by their two new designs, which are a combination of diagonal stripes, sections of blue and a large Power C.
“They’re new. They’re shiny,” Seidel said.
Preliminary testing of the shuttles began in fall 2022, and they went into full-time service in January, he said. The diesel buses now are used only as backups in case one of the electric shuttles is taken off the route for some reason, Seidel explained.
Mocs Express buses run at seven-minute intervals—depending on traffic—from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are free to all UTC students, faculty and staff.
An electric shuttle can run about 12 hours without having to return to the CARTA depot on Willow Street to be recharged, explained Philip Pugliese, general manager of planning and grants at CARTA.
“We provide a public service, so providing transportation services to the university and community residents in the area is important to us. Introducing new technologies and clean-energy technologies are important to us,” he said.
The idea to use all-electric shuttles for Mocs Express began about a year ago during talks between UTC and CARTA officials, Seidel said.
“We were discussing some possible route changes or other ways we could improve the services that we have to the students,” he said.
CARTA officials brought up the utility’s electric shuttles as a possibility.
“That’s where we were able to be involved with CARTA’s initiative to go electric,” Seidel said, “so we’re just really, really excited to be able to be a part of that and have our Mocs Express route be a pillar of more sustainability.”