Chattanooga Pushes Multimodal to Solve Its Transportation Problems

The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority is launching multiple electric-vehicle charging stations in the region, a solar farm to power them and a car-share service.

The most progressive transit systems are moving well beyond buses and trains, taking on projects supporting car-sharing and electric-vehicle infrastructure.
The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is constructing an 80-kilowatt solar farm, the installation of 64 electric-vehicle charging ports spread across 22 sites and a car-sharing program powered by battery-electric Nissan LEAFs.
“CARTA has been very proactive in working to develop multimodal transportation solutions,” said Philip Pugliese, transportation system planner for CARTA. “This project was originally presented as an electric-vehicle public car-share solution. CARTA believed that such a program could extend the reach of our traditional bus network and promote transportation choice.”
The project has been singled out by Smart Cities Connect for a Smart 50 Award in the Mobility category. The awards are granted by Smart Cities Connect, Smart Cities Connect Foundation and US Ignite.
The mobility project began in late 2012 when CARTA explored the idea of adding car-sharing to its transit mix “to fill the gap between bike-share and public transit,” explained Pugliese.
“As funding for the project evolved, the system changed to include both public EV charging, in addition to the EV car-share element,” said Pugliese, who added that the project was funded through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the large electric utility for the area.
“With interest from an electric-vehicle car-share operator, CARTA entered into a funding agreement with TVA in February 2014 to provide for a minimum of 40 charging ports and a 20-vehicle car-share program,” said Pugliese in an email. “It was actually in an effort to continue integration and promotion of the public bike-share system that led us into the development of the EV charging and car-share program.”
A second phase of the program, which included the additional charging stations, was completed in December 2017.
The car-share portion of the project is operated by Green Commuter, a membership-based car-sharing platform based in Los Angeles. Members rent the car for the time they need it, while the company pays for electricity to recharge the vehicles, as well as maintenance, parking and insurance costs. Rates are $7 an hour or $45 a day.
“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, in a statement. “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 cars are charged at CARTA-owned charging stations, which are free for EV drivers.
“Car-share operations account for about 50 percent of charging use, with the remainder provided to the public at no cost other than standard parking rates, if applicable,” said Pugliese.
Roughly 55,000 vehicle miles have been powered by clean energy, according to CARTA officials. 
Other U.S. cities recognized in the Mobility sector for the Smart 50 Awards include a mobile ticketing project in San Antonio, Texas. The Texas Innovation Alliance will be recognized for its ability to bring together multiple agencies to develop transportation innovation projects. Austin’s Electric Drive project, which installed a kiosk in downtown for bike and car charging, will be recognized at the Smart 50 Awards, as will its traffic monitoring program, which collects video footage in the aim of analyzing vehicle counts, pedestrian activity and other variables.  
Marietta, Ga., will be honored for its TravelSafely app, which sends an alert to drivers when emergency responders are approaching.
Las Vegas will be recognized for several transportation projects, starting with its street video analytics program, as well as its self-driving shuttle pilot. Las Vegas will also receive kudos for its Vision Zero Project, which installed sensors on intersections in the city’s Innovation District to track pedestrian, cycling and vehicle traffic data. 

Smart 50 Awards recipients will be recognized at an awards gala March 26 in Kansas City, Mo.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.