JTB Hawaii and its subsidiary, Travel Plaza Transportation, today introduced Hawaii’s first electric-powered commercial bus fleet in keeping with the company’s commitment to be a leader at providing travelers with energy-efficient, environmentally clean ground transportation.

Three full-size buses were unveiled at today’s blessing ceremony at the Travel Plaza Transportation Bus Facility in central Honolulu, where they will be stored and powered utilizing a dedicated charging station installed for that purpose. The buses will initially operate routes provided by JTB in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, with service beginning in April.

“These electric-powered buses are vital to the future of JTB Hawaii, as they offer the quietest, most energy efficient and cleanest form of commercial ground transportation available for people wanting to enjoy tours,” said Hiroyuki “Keith” Kitagawa, president and CEO of JTB Hawaii. “These full-size buses produce no emissions or noise pollution, are lightweight and are built lower to the ground to better accommodate the boarding of children and complying with ADA requirements.”

Each bus can carry 77 passengers, reach a top speed of 65 miles per hour if needed, and can travel for 250 miles on a single charge. The buses will operate on battery-powered energy of 440 kilowatt hours (kWh), with a projected efficiency of 1.75 kWh per mile with a full passenger load. The time to fully charge each bus takes three hours and 30 minutes.

The electric-powered, air-conditioned buses are ideal for travelers wanting the comfort, convenience, safety and support of a frequent “hop on, hop off” shuttle service making multiple stops in Waikiki and Honolulu, or for enjoying longer tours to anywhere on Oahu.

Bus Design Inspired by Blue Planet Foundation and Hawaii’s Children
The new electric-powered buses will stand out for more than just their environmental benefits and energy efficiency. Each bus features a uniquely appealing and colorful exterior wrap design inspired by Hawaii children through Blue Planet Foundation’s “Driving Forward” Art Challenge program.
Last year, Blue Planet Foundation encouraged children to share their views through art on what Hawaii’s 100 percent renewable transportation future will look like in 2045. More than 250 students from 14 schools statewide participated in the program, from which 42 pieces of art were selected to be displayed as part of the bus wrap design. Images of the children’s artwork wrapped on the bus are available here.

“We need to rapidly expand the number of electric fleet vehicles in Hawaii to help minimize the negative impacts of our ground transportation sector as our electrical grid moves to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” says Lauren Reichelt, Blue Planet Foundation’s Clean Transportation Lead and Clean Cities Coordinator for the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii. “The creative and inspiring artwork featured on these buses will be a reminder that we must do better for future generations. This will require both environmentally minded personal choices and forward-thinking business decisions.”

State’s Clean Energy Goal the Impetus for JTB’s Electric Buses
In early 2016, JTB Hawaii began the process to introduce electric-powered buses to its fleet in response to Governor David Ige having signed into law an energy bill setting a goal that the State of Hawaii be powered with 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2045.

Kitagawa said, “After Governor Ige made it a priority to utilize 100 percent clean energy, JTB Hawaii set out to become the state’s first tourism company to offer electric-powered ground transportation services to help achieve that goal.

“The introduction of these three electric buses is a first step in how JTB Hawaii is working toward a sustainable tourism business model for the good of our company’s future and that of Hawaii. Environmental sustainability is a task that our tourism industry must aggressively confront for the sake of Hawaii’s future.”

JTB Electric Bus Facts

  • Carrying Capacity: 77 passengers, 40 sitting and 37 standing
  • Length: 42-feet, 6-inches
  • Height: 11-feet, 2-inches
  • Wheelbase: 24-feet, 8-inches
  • Acceleration: Zero to 20 miles per hour in 6.8 seconds 
  • Top Speed: 65 miles per hour
  • Door Width: Front door, 43.2-inches; Rear door, 49.1-inches
  • Curb Vehicle Weight: 29,849 lbs. (minus passengers and cargo)
  • Manufacturer: Proterra Catalyst of Burlingame, CA.