Berks County Partnering with AMP, Momentum Dynamics on All-Electric Public Transit Vehicles

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Reading BARTA bus

AMP Electric Vehicles and Momentum Dynamics are joining together to supply Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority (BARTA) with all-electric buses. This joint venture will commence this year with the introduction of plug-in paratransit buses and wireless chargers. BARTA will become the first transit authority in Pennsylvania to use all-electric vehicles and the first in the United States to use paratransit vehicles powered by electricity. AMP and Momentum Dynamics are combining considerable expertise about EV technology to turn Berks County into a laboratory for emissions-free transportation. A focus on eliminating emissions in public transit not only saves budgets but creates an incentive for regional use.

BARTA currently operates a fleet of 57 buses and 39 paratransit vehicles throughout Berks County with most routes in the city of Reading. The regional authority recently approved the conversion of two buses outfitted with AMP drive trains and charged by wireless chargers from Momentum Dynamics. This joint venture could conceivably convert every bus in the BARTA fleet without requiring costly premiums associated with new plug-in models. Each converted bus would save money for BARTA while keeping current buses out of scrapyards. Momentum Dynamics is providing funds along with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to create infrastructure for wireless EV charging.

AMP and Momentum Dynamics will share complementary experiences that should help BARTA easily adapt to all-electric vehicles. Engineers at AMP have developed an all-electric step bus that will be tested in Berks County. AMP specializes in designing and manufacturing electric drive systems that can be swapped into existing vehicles. The e-Dual Direct Drive by AMP has been inserted into a Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and a Jeep Grand Cherokee to create the AMP MLe and AMP GCE.  Momentum Dynamics has created a wireless charging system that uses resonant magnetic induction to carry electrical power over spaces up to two feet. Designers at Momentum not only focused on charger safety and reliability but smart software that keeps the larger grid in mind.

Berks County provides an ideal laboratory for a joint venture dealing with all-electric transit. The county is located adjacent to Philadelphia, providing a good point of comparison for vehicle performance and fuel savings. BARTA spans a region with about 400,000 residents including 80,000 residents currently living in Reading. Southeast Pennsylvania experiences the full range of weather conditions including high temperatures and rain during the summer and significant snowfall during the winter. Momentum Dynamics is located in neighboring Chester County, which could spur on similar businesses in the region if the BARTA experiment is successful.

The recent push toward public transportation by local, state and national officials is only meaningful if greener vehicles are used. Commuters who opt for buses and trains rather than cars certainly reduce their emissions contribution while reducing traffic congestion. Buses produce about 33% fewer emissions than cars and trucks but still emit 0.64 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger mile according to the Federal Transportation Administration. These carbon emissions can be eliminated from buses and paratransit vehicles by switching gradually to electric vehicles. Transit authorities concerned with the high costs of green vehicles should research companies like AMP Electric Vehicles that provide more affordable solutions to their environmental concerns.