The Central Maryland Regional Transit Corp. (CMRT), manager of Howard Transit, finalized a contract with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to fund three new, lightweight electric buses for the Howard Transit fleet.

Atlanta-based Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) will apply its expertise in clean transit operations to manage this demonstration of cutting-edge technologies in public transportation.

The all‐electric buses, which will replace three of the fleet’s oldest diesel buses, will be inductively charged by stopping on an electromagnetic pad located at a bus stop along Howard Transit’s "Green" Route, on which the bus will operate. This state-of‐the‐art charging method requires no physical connection to the charger, and works quickly while the bus is en route to maximize operation time.

The project is funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Program. The TIGGER Program was initiated in 2009 with the goal of working directly with public transportation agencies to implement new strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use within transit operations.

The $3.7 million grant will cover the three electric buses, the inductive charger, and a passenger bus shelter, which will provide informational updates to passengers.

CTE will work closely with CMRT to evaluate the existing Green Route for areas where the service can be improved and identify specifications of vehicles and charger requirements. Howard Transit will house and operate the buses. The bus and charger manufacturers have not yet been selected.

The buses are expected to begin operations in Spring 2014.