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Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA)


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Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is the final Tennessee transit agency utilizing heavy-duty buses I am going to showcase here.  For unknown reasons, CARTA has long maintained a much older fleet compared to the other 3 biggest urban agencies in the state (Memphis MATA, Nashville MTA and Knoxville KAT).  By the time of my last visit in September 2013, Gillig Phantoms of 2 lengths (30 and 35ft.) still seemed to dominate the fleet. Operationally, it is an agency apart from the other 3 as well, as it is the only fixed route transit agency in the state that still uses a downtown transfer zone focused chiefly at Market Street between 4th & 6th Streets instead of a dedicated off-street terminal (Like MTA's Music City Central in Nashville and KAT's Knoxville Station after their host agencies abolished their respective transit malls).  I also noticed that a lot of interlining occurred at the downtown end-of-lines of the routes, such that 30ft. an 35ft. buses intermingle in a same route a lot of times, regardless of the ridership.

Fleet-wise, CARTA has a few 200-series Ford cutaways used for Dial-A-Ride flexible fixed route service.


After sorting out the pictures I have taken, I have determined the length breakdowns of the Phantom fleet is as the following:

30ft. : 101, 102, 107, 135, 136, 138, 139, 140, 143, 144 (10 buses)

35ft. : 111, 113, 114,116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 126, 129, 130, 132 (13 buses)

Illustrated here are bus 102, a 30ft. bus with dot matrix headsign; bus 135, a 30ft. with a LED headsign and bus 116, a 35ft. example.  I managed to picture all of the Phantoms listed at the agency's CPTDB wiki page, plus 30ft. bus 139.


Gillig BRT Hybrid LFH502 and Low Floor LF146 (both EPA-2007 buses) are the only low-floor buses I've pictured from this agency.  It has since bought an unknown of Low Floor/BRT with a mix of both diesel and hybrid buses, numbering them in both 100 (chiefly from 145 onward) and 500 series. At least 3 are 145, 150 and LFH504.  It possibly uses gaps from the Phantom fleet numbers or even reusing some of the Phantom fleet numbers (I saw an online picture of LFH101).

CARTA-r16-LF146-1.JPGCARTA-r16-LF146-2.JPGCARTA-r16-LF146-3.JPGCARTA-r04- LFH502-1.JPGCARTA-r04- LFH502-2.JPG

CARTA also operates two other non-conventional transit services.  At least a dozen of AVS-22 electric buses are deployed on the Downtown and North Shore shuttles, as illustrated by wrapped bus 704 and bus 714 in a special electric shuttle livery.  Again, I managed to every single electric bus listed in the wiki page plus bus 701.  They have since introduced 3 BYD electric buses.


Finally, CARTA also operated the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway in the St. Elmo neighborhood, one of the steepest passenger railway in the world.


Here is the link to my CARTA gallery:

Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority 

All pictures were taken in December 2010, except those for bus LF146 and the Incline Railway cars.

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I was in Chattanooga past Monday morning to catch up with the low-floor bus operation with CARTA, and I ended up spotting the only sister bus of LF146 previous mentioned, LF145.  Also pictured and attached here are the EPA-2010 sister buses LF148 and 149.  On the hybrid bus side, CARTA opted for conventional Gillig LF's after bus LFH502, and I had pictured buses LFH504-506 for depiction here. 


More significantly, I had pictured two out of three BYD K9S electric buses.  They are numbered 751-753, where buses 751 and 753 are depicted here.  They are some of the few BYD K9S buses in the eastern US.


Meanwhile, the only high-floor bus I have pictured during the same stay was 30ft. Phantom bus 143, pictured on the Mocs Express shuttle for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to complete my collection on CARTA's fixed bus routes.  By the way, I have noticed that CARTA has issued a bid for up to 20 refurbished 2003-06 35ft. low-floor buses.  I wonder if CARTA is this short of funding such that its oldest Phantoms are still on the road approaching 21 years old?  The only older transit buses that are still on the road in the US are the 1996 New Flyer D35HF's with another CARTA (Charleston, South Carolina) that are hitting 23 years old this year!


A bonus picture here is a Ford E-series cutaway serving the fixed route system of Cleveland Urban Area Transit System in Cleveland, Tennessee (About 40 minutes east of Chattanooga).  To say the system and the cutaways themselves as unremarkable seems to be an understatement.


Here are the links to galleries for the two agencies mentioned:

Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA)

 Cleveland Urban Area Transit System (Cleveland, Tennessee)

Edited by Buzz2kb
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