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PSTA taps wireless technology to cut the time it takes for an electric bus to charge

Margie Manning

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PSTA will provide wireless charging for its fleet of electric buses.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has begun construction on a new electric bus charging station at PSTA’s transfer hub next to the agency’s headquarters in St. Petersburg.

The wireless technology will more than cut in half the time the time it takes for electric buses to recharge. It will allow PSTA’s all-electric buses to remain in service throughout the workday, said Joe Barkley, PSTA board chair.

Currently, PSTA’s electric buses use a plug-in charger and take four hours to fully recharge.

The wireless charging station uses 250-kilowat inductive power transfer technology, and includes a primary charging plate. The process works by an electric bus stopping over the charging plate and aligning with it. The only training drivers will need is how to properly align with the charger, which connects with the bus wirelessly, PSTA said.

PSTA electric bus charging station from St. Pete Catalyst on Vimeo.

The technology is the first of its kind on the U.S. east coast.

“This innovative technology is one giant step forward for not only PSTA, but transit agencies across the nation. Being the first electric charging station of its kind in Florida sets the standard of transportation agencies becoming more environmentally friendly,” said Brad Miller, PSTA CEO. “At PSTA we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint while still providing the best service possible to our community.”

PSTA has two electric buses now, and expects to add four more in the fall of 2020.

“As we add additional all-electric buses to our fleet, this charging system will add dramatically to our efficient, cost saving electric bus service,” Barkley said.

Project construction and installation was awarded to A & K Energy Conservation Inc., with a contract not to exceed a total cost of $192,000. Funding is derived from Pinellas County’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement

Construction is expected to wrap up by spring. During construction, the 34th street transfer hub will be closed. Buses will be diverted to an on-sight temporary transfer center at PSTA’s headquarters, at 3201 Scherer Dr.

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