Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC

Foothill Transit Hosts METRANS PSR Students and Alumni

Sunday, January 7, 2018 - 7:00pm

By Borui Zhai, USC Viterbi MSCE 2019


On October 28th, 2017, students and alumni from PSR universities USC, UCLA, and UC Irvine were given a private, behind-the-scenes guided tour of the facilities of Foothill Transit. Foothill Transit is the largest municipal transit operator in the San Gabriel Valley, with a fleet of about 330 buses, including 315 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses and 15 fast-charge electric buses. I was one of the students in attendance.

We began the day with a private Foothill bus trip from the USC main campus to the Foothill Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility in Arcadia, a 65,000 square foot facility where approximately half of Foothill’s fleet is maintained. About half of Foothill Transit CNG buses operate from the property, which includes a dispatch center, crew rest areas, and vehicle maintenance and refueling facilities.

Upon arrival, we were welcomed by Foothill Transit Executive Director Doran Barnes, who gave an introduction to the history and scope of the agency. Foothill Transit is a joint powers authority of five clusters, with 22 member cities, and provides community-oriented and environment-friendly bus service throughout the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.

The highest priority of Foothill Transit is to guarantee the customers’ travel satisfaction, Barnes shared. High trip quality and safety are always the rules of thumb. Several questions about how to achieve the priorities under the environment issues and the change of the politics were raised by the audience, who were particularly interested in the agency’s electrification program. Barnes said that all the buses at Foothill Transit would be 100% electric by 2030.

After the presentation, Barnes led us to visit the areas of various functions, including a thorough and exclusive tour of the maintenance bays, the replacement parts reserve, the refueling stations and the drive-through wash station. Barnes detailed the physical changes Foothill Transit anticipates making to the grounds to accommodate an all-electric bus fleet in future years.

After the tour at the first site, we then headed to the electric bus station and facilities at the Pomona Transit Center. Foothill Transit has operated 15 electric buses on a single pilot route for the past seven years. One thing amazed me the most is the recharging consoles here. An electric bus recharged itself via attaching overhead consoles by its roof. We witnessed an electric bus charging, and were able to tour the inside of the bus. These electric buses would generate almost zero greenhouse gases when they were operating, but they were far more expensive than regular CNG buses.

After our time at the Pomona Transit Center, we headed back to campus and enjoyed a great lunch together.  METRANS has brought students to Foothill Transit each fall for several years. This would definitely be a valuable experience for students and alumni. Great thanks to both METRANS PSR and the staff of Foothill Transit for arranging this unique tour and devoting their time to make this trip such a valuable experience for us!

Foothill Transit Chief Executive Director Doran Barnes Introducing Foothill Transit to PSR Students and Alumni

Photo by METRANS Associate Director Victoria Deguzman


PSR Students Visiting the Pomona Transit Yard of Foothill Transit

Photo by METRANS Associate Director Victoria Deguzman


About the Author: Borui Zhai

Borui Zhai is a first-year Master of Civil Engineering student at USC focusing on transportation engineering. He can be reached at