The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority is one of two Chattanooga-based entities to receive accolades in this year’s Smart 50 Awards, which recognize smart cities projects from around the world. CARTA received its Smart 50 Award for its innovative electric vehicle charging and car share project. The Smart 50 Awards are a partnership of Smart Cities Connect, Smart Cities Connect Foundation, and US Ignite to honor the most innovative and influential work in this arena.
CARTA, as the public transportation agency and leader in electric vehicle deployment, developed the Solar Assisted Electric Vehicle Charging and Car Share Project in partnership with TVA, Green Commuter, Prova Group, EPB, and the city of Chattanooga. A new network of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure was deployed across the community to promote transportation choice through integration with traditional transit, Electric Shuttle operations, the Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System, and public parking infrastructure.
“Our over 30 years of experience with electric vehicles made this project a perfect fit,” said Lisa Maragnano, CARTA executive director. “Providing the public with the rights tools for the right trip is what CARTA is about, now and in the future. Bike, bus, drive, or park, CARTA is there.”
With the construction of 80kW of solar energy production and related power provider agreements, a compensatory amount of clean energy is provided to the electric grid to match vehicle energy use. So far CARTA has installed 64 electric vehicle charging ports across 22 site locations promoting electric vehicle charging access at no cost to the user. CARTA selected Green Commuter, a California-based benefit corporation, to introduce 20 Nissan LEAF all-electric vehicles as part of a new car share program, with vehicles accessible by the hour or day through smart phone technology. This unique ownership model of the electric vehicle supply equipment by CARTA provides for continued maintenance and connectivity of the charging network through revenues produced by solar energy production.
“With 20 Green Commuter vehicles spread throughout the Chattanooga area, we're giving our community choices when it comes to mobility," said Mel Honeycutt, program manager for Green Commuter in Chattanooga. "We're seeing that many of our members are becoming car light, reducing the number of vehicles in their household to one and using Green Commuter as their second mode of transportation.”
The expansion of the publicly accessible electric vehicle charging network and the introduction of a new car share program to the city promotes the further use of smart and clean energy transportation choices. Coordination of data collection from these transport systems provides CARTA the opportunity to develop enhanced and integrated transportation bundles to promote consumer choice and better utilize the community's transportation resources. This new electric vehicle framework will also provide a foundation for the introduction of connected and autonomous vehicle technology as well as mobility on demand solutions, said officials.
To date, over 55,000 vehicle miles have been converted to clean energy with related emission reductions. Over 40,000 car share and public charging events have been provided and a new integrated multimodal transportation system introduced. Through the expansion of charging stations, the installation of renewable solar power generation, and the use of plug-in electric vehicles, this project promotes the adoption of clean energy technologies and will reduce engine emissions from vehicle use on a sustained basis. A research component of the project will track the utilization of this system to gather data to support additional development for the Tennessee Valley.
“Chattanooga is honored by this recognition," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. "This project is an example of our community at its most collaborative and creative, with many people working across sectors to make transportation more useful, more efficient, and more environmentally responsible. I’m excited about where this innovative and practical transit work will take us. My thanks and congratulations to CARTA and their partners."
Chattanooga was also recognized for a project on Underground Infrastructure Sensing by UTC and The University of Vermont. In the UTC/UVM project, equipment such as radar and magnetic sensors search underground to document the location and condition of water and sewer pipes, electrical conduits, fiber optic lines and other infrastructure.
“CARTA’s project is an excellent example of how a wide range of Chattanooga area organizations are coming together to innovate in providing ‘Smart City’ solutions for people in our community,” said David Wade, president and CEO of EPB. “As this project demonstrates, technical advancements must be joined with collaborative efforts to provide solutions for people.”
This year, the primary categories for the Smart 50 Awards included governance, mobility, energy, citizen life, and networks. The program recognizes municipal-scale projects that exemplify innovation and demonstrate concrete influence in their community or communities of implementation.