TANK makes upgrades; hybrid buses, new hubs, mobile WiFi

While we were all away enjoying our extended winter break, the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky was busy adding hubs, more free WiFi access and hybrid buses to the fleet.

Though not all of TANK’s buses have WiFi, routes 1x,2x,25x,30x and 32x are equipped with the free technology. These routes were chosen because of the high number of riders and longer ride times. TANK is still considering whether to add WiFi to NKU routes 1 and 25.

The first of four new transit hubs opened Jan. 10 in Fort Wright. Three more hubs are planned in Florence, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and NKU.

The hub at NKU is a couple of years off, Gina Douthat, TANK director of communication and development said. A site has not been selected and funds still need to be secured. She said TANK plans to apply for federal and state grants for the project.

The “super stop” will be a spot where multiple bus lines meet and branch out all over Northern Kentucky. Douthat said one of the complaints TANK hears is to get from one part of Northern Kentucky to another, passengers first have to travel to a hub downtown, and then come back to Kentucky.

“It opens up the service for more people to get to more places,” Douthat said.

The NKU hub will be modeled after Ft. Wright’s, which has a 200-space park-and-ride lot made of porous pavement, that allows rainwater to seep through it, instead of draining into the storm drains. The new pavement is one of the ways that TANK is contributing to the environment.

Another way TANK is going green is by adding hybrid buses to the fleet to reduce emissions. Four hybrids are assigned to the Southbank Shuttle route. They use a battery at slower speeds and in stop-and-start traffic, with the diesel engine taking over at higher speeds.

Because such buses are only cost-effective in areas of slow, heavy traffic, Douthat said TANK does not intend to use them at NKU.

These hybrid buses run on the Southgate Shuttle and were made possible because of the Clean Fuels federal grant, which funds projects to bring up areas to meet air quality standard goals.