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news release

Contact: Dave Brown
RELEASE: May 19, 1997

NJDOT unveils Project: Power Commute

Electric car demonstration project for
employees to carpool from train station to work

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) today unveiled at the Morristown train station "Project: Power Commute," a public-private partnership designed to promote wider use of public transit by providing transportation to the workplaces of NJ TRANSIT commuters traveling in the reverse direction during morning and evening peak periods.

"Project: Power Commute is a ground-breaking effort designed to address what has become a significant barrier to increasing the use of commuter rail service. We know that many potential transit riders cannot easily reach their workplaces from the train station. We also know that we have air quality and traffic congestion problems, the solutions of which must be developed on many different fronts," said Governor Christie Whitman. "This project demonstrates my administration’s commitment to improving the quality of our environment and improving access to our transit system, especially for those individuals that may never have considered commuting before. If this project works, it will give people the incentive to use the trains as a way of traveling in New Jersey, thereby reducing pollution and traffic."

"New Jersey needs to make the most out of its rail system. Through Project: Power Commute, we hope to achieve two main objectives: attracting new riders traveling in the reverse direction (from New York) where we have available seats by closing the ‘commuting gap’ between train stations and work locations; and using non-polluting electric cars to determine their effectiveness as short range commuting vehicles," said Transportation Commissioner John J. Haley Jr. The Commissioner noted that when fully implemented Project: Power Commute will be the largest station car demonstration project in the Northeast.

Haley praised the participating employers -- GPU Energy, Lucent Technologies, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile and Bayer Consumer Care Division -- for their leadership in providing alternatives to single occupancy vehicles for their employees. GPU Energy has also provided a grant toward the purchase of electric vehicle charging equipment and Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile has installed, at no cost, cellular telephones in the vehicles that allow occupants to call for emergency assistance.

In addition to the participating firms, two other New Jersey companies are playing an important role in the project. PSE&G has also provided grant money for the purchase of charging equipment and the American Automobile Association Clubs of New Jersey will provide, at no cost, roadside assistance for vehicles covered under the program.

"We would not have a project if these companies did not step forward to dedicate their time and resources. Project: Power Commute truly represents what government and private sector can do in tandem to develop programs that preserve our environment and improve our quality of life," Haley added.

In December, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved a $1.28 million contract with Solectria Corp. of Wilmington, Massachusetts for purchase of 21 electric cars, seven of which have been assigned to the Morristown station. The remaining vehicles will be assigned to two other electric station car demonstration projects that the NJDOT will announce later this year at the Woodcrest train station (in association with PATCO) and the Princeton Junction station (In association with NJ TRANSIT).

Shirley A. DeLibero, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director, commended the Whitman Administration for its continued support of public transportation. "Through this project the Governor has once again demonstrated her commitment to making public transportation available and affordable to New Jersey residents," she said.

The MC RIDES transportation management association (TMA) will coordinate and manage the Morristown area demonstration project. The TMAs in the Woodcrest and Princeton Junction areas will manage those demonstration projects. The NJDOT will provide funding to the TMAs and be responsible for overall project management.

Of the seven vehicles assigned to Morristown, six will available for participating employers and one for the TMA. NJ TRANSIT will lease the vehicles to the participating employers for the three-year term of the project. The employers, in turn, assign the vehicles to a group of employees who will be commuting via train for the first time.

Reserved parking spaces with charging boxes have been installed at the train station and work locations. After the vehicles are used to transport employees to the workplace, employers may use the vehicles for work-related activities, such as deliveries and transportation to meetings. At the end of each workday, the vehicle will return to the train station and be charged overnight.

The vehicles are specially fitted Geo Metros. In each vehicle, the engine, transmission, cooling system, exhaust system and gas tank have been removed and replaced with an electric motor, DC/AC converter, on-board charger and 13 batteries.

The vehicles take three to four hours to fully charge at 220 volts -- the amount commonly used to power a home electric clothes dryer. If 220-volt current is not available, a standard 110 volt outlet can be used to provide a slower charge (six to eight hours). On a full charge, the electric vehicles have a range of approximately 50 miles.

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