Paratransit Accessory Electrification

UTA will receive nearly $700,000 in funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop and demonstrate anti-idling technology in paratransit vehicles as part of the Bus Efficiency Enhancement Research Demonstration (BEERD).  The project supports FTA’s goal of developing and deploying new and innovative ideas for transit buses that reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

Paratransit operations differ from fixed route services because of their mission to transport people who are physically incapable of using scheduled transportation.  The operation of these vehicles results in excessive wait times during operations, where it is necessary to run the engine to power heating, air conditioning wheelchair lifts, lights, and doors.  Idling engines to power these accessories wastes fuel, increases emissions, and raises fuel and maintenance costs.  

UTA’s paratransit buses typically idle between 25% and 30 % of the time, and reducing the power consumed by air conditioning represents one of the greatest opportunities for increasing efficiency and fuel economy.  This project will electrify accessories on paratransit vehicles with the goals of improving the quality of life in the communities served by these vehicles, reducing petroleum fuel consumption, improving vehicle performance, and cutting maintenance costs.

The project team includes the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), The University of Texas at Austin-Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM), Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Transworld Associates LLC (TWA), and the University of Utah (UofU).

The project team will couple the electric air conditioning system to an advanced lithium ion battery auxiliary power unit.  The vehicle’s engine will be turned off while waiting and loading passengers, and the battery energy storage system will power the heating and ventilation system and other auxiliary loads, such as wheelchair ramps, lights, and doors.  When the driver restarts the engine to drive away, the belt-driven alternator will recharge the batteries.  

For more information about our project, please view the attached PowerPoint presentation or email Hal Johnson, Manager of Project Dev-Systems Plan, at