Foothill Transit debuts electric bus

Melissa Gasia
Staff Writer

Foothill Transit launched its zero emissions fast-charge electric bus line, Line 291, that travels between Pomona and La Verne, Sept. 27 at the Pomona Transit Center.

“It charges at the docking station in under 10 minutes and I don’t know about you but my cellphone doesn’t charge that fast,” said Felicia Friesema, Foothill Transit director of marketing and communications.

In 2010, Line 291 became the first public transt line to have a fast-charge electric bus line in the United States. Foothill Transit originally had three electric buses, but the success of the program lead to the company’s purchase of 12 more electric buses from Proterra LCC.

The ULV Band played “Electric Avenue” and other pep tunes during the parade of the 12 new electric buses.

Foothill transit currently has more than 330 service buses. Fifteen of them are now electric buses. The rest are running on compressed natural gas. Friesema said having CNG buses is still going to be important because they will also serve as a backup plan in case of power outtage.

Guest speakers included Paula Lantz, vice chairwoman of Foothill Transit Executive Board; Grace Napolitano, 32nd District congresswoman; Becky Shevlin, board member of Foothill Transit Executive Board; Charlie Rosales, councilmember of La Verne; Elliot Rothman, mayor of Pomona. Doug Tessitor, chairman of Foothill Transit Executive Board; Ryan Popple, CEO of Preterra LCC; and Hilda Solis, supervisor elect of Los Angeles County.

“We are very fortunate to have them,” Rothman said. “They helps with the quality of life for all the people and citizens of La Verne and Pomona and all the surrounding communities.”

Passengers priority is the ability to get to their destination on time and safely. With the fast charge buses, they can expect fewer delays, more comfortable seats, cleaner air for the community and a more conversation-friendly quiet ride.

“You can have a nice converstion on that bus without having to rais your voice,” Friesema said.

Line 291 carries approximately 640,000 passengers per year. That would be 640,000 car trips that would not be happening between the city of Pomona and La Verne.

“The youngsters and university need to understand this may lead to future green energy jobs,” Napolitano said.

“Maybe then, figure in their own mind ‘How can you make this system better’ or recommend with working with other students who live in areas that there is no bus accessible is getting the word to the transit agency,” she said. “All of that is just being able to be aware that this exists and how this is going to help clean the environment because it takes cars off the road and students sometimes may not find parking so they’ll take a bus,” she said.

Melissa Gasia can be reached at

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