Introducing All Electric Buses
Ribbon Cutting Celebration
On Saturday, November 5, 2016 County Connection and the City of Walnut Creek introduced the new electric trolley to the community. The celebration included guest speakers, light refreshments, and inaugural rides on one of the trolleys.
A special thanks to the project partners – Gillig Corporation, BAE, and WAVE for working with County Connection on the development of the electric bus, electrical power system and inductive charging station. Additional thanks were offered to FTA (the funding partner), PGE and BART.
About the Project
How We Got Here
In 2012, County Connection received a $4.32 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Clean Fuels Grant Program. The award allowed County Connection to purchase four electric trolley buses and two charging stations. The project was submitted by County Connection with support from the City of Walnut Creek.
The FTA Clean Fuels Program funds projects to help transit agencies purchase and support clean vehicles that reduce harmful emissions, increase fuel economy, and provide reliable transportation for passengers.
The electric trolley’s were built locally by Gillig and are the first electric buses to come off their line. These trolley’s also represent another first – a partnership between Gillig, BAE (manufacturer of the electric power system) and WAVE (the manufacturer of the inductive charging station).
The new electric trolleys will replace the existing diesel trolleys that are used on the popular Route 4 Free Downtown Trolley in Walnut Creek. The City of Walnut Creek provides operating assistance for the service, allowing passengers to ride for free. The buses run between the Walnut Creek BART station, downtown Walnut Creek, and the Broadway Plaza seven days a week.
More about Inductive Charging
WAVE is the leading provider of en-route wireless power charging solutions that overcome traditional battery limitations in electric vehicles. Wireless power is delivered using electrical infrastructure embedded in the roadway and in vehicle-mounted receiver plates – also known as inductive charging.
This innovative approach to keeping batteries charged without returning the vehicle to the bus yard is what makes it possible to provide reliable and efficient transit service.
To see other projects delivered by Wave, visit their website
How does inductive charging work? Watch this video to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
County Connection is pleased to announce the deployment of 4 new electric trolleys. The existing diesel trolleys have been in service since 2002 and with a useful life of 12 years, were eligible for replacement.
Will the trolley service continue to be free?
Yes. The Free Ride Trolley (Route 4), which has been in service for over 30 years, will continue to be free for all passengers.
How is County Connection able to provide this service for free?
The City of Walnut Creek subsidizes the fares for the Free Ride Trolley. Route 4 is one of County Connection’s most productive routes with average weekday boardings between 800-900 passengers.
Will there be any changes to the route?
No. The route and hours of operation will remain the same. However, there will be additional service during the holidays from November 25th to December 31st. Please visit our website for more information.
Who paid for the new electric trolleys?
In 2012, County Connection was awarded a federal grant under the “Clean Fuels Program”. The total cost of the project was $5.4 million.
Where are the charging stations?
One of the charging stations is located at County Connection’s bus yard. The second charging station is located at BART – Walnut Creek.
How will the trolleys be charged?
At BART – Walnut Creek, the trolleys will be charged wirelessly. This is achieved through electromagnets embedded in the roadway and vehicle-mounted receiver plates. This is the same wireless charging principle as an electric toothbrush or a wireless smartphone charger, except optimized for a massive public-transit vehicle.
The charging station at County Connection’s bus yard is similar to conventional home plug-in stations, except that is it a higher voltage plug.
Is it safe to walk over the electromagnets embedded in the roadway?
Yes, it is safe to walk over the charging station at BART – Walnut Creek. The inductive charge is ONLY triggered when the bus drives over the charging plate.
What are the savings anticipated by this investment?
It is anticipated that the electric trolleys will reduce emissions by over 154 tons of CO2 per year as well as reduce fuel consumption by as much as 13,954 gallons annually, and result in annual fuel savings of nearly $50,000.
How many passengers can the new trolleys carry?
Each electric trolley has a seating capacity of 23 passengers. Standing is permitted on the trolley. Like the rest of County Connection’s fleet, the new trolleys are ADA accessible and are lift or ramp equipped.
Will County Connection deploy electric buses on other routes?
County Connection’s current electric bus fleet is limited to the four electric trolleys assigned to Route 4. However, earlier this year, County Connection was awarded a second FTA grant under the “Low or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus Program” to purchase additional electric buses. County Connection will evaluate all of its routes to determine where an electric bus would be most efficient.