Sep 16

Knoxville Introduces All-Electric Buses to KAT Fleet

Posted on September 16, 2021 at 12:34 PM by Savannah Kilday

Electric Bus Event

Image information: Cutting the ribbon on Knoxville's first all-electric KAT buses are from left, Brian Blackmon, Director of Sustainability for the City of Knoxville, Sarah Fansler, Director of Community Outreach for U.S. Representative Tim Burchett, Knoxville City Councilmember Tommy Smith, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, Isaac Thorne, Director of Transit for the City of Knoxville, and Gabriel Bolas,  President and CEO of Knoxville Utilities Board.

Mayor Kincannon joined Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), elected officials, and others today in Caswell Park to introduce and celebrate the first all-electric buses to join the KAT fleet.  This order of the first 12 vehicles represents a step toward Knoxville’s clean and resilient future – and progress toward the City’s goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.  Five of the 12 have arrived to-date, the rest are due before the end of the year. An additional 6 vehicles are expected to arrive next year, bringing the total to 18.  When the last electric bus arrives, this all-electric group will represent 26% of the total fleet, along with another 41% being hybrid-electrics. 

“Today marks a dramatic milestone for Knoxville – this is a major step on our path toward a more clean and resilient future for our children and grandchildren,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “These high-efficiency electric buses are an investment in clean air, in healthy neighborhoods, and mobility for our residents.” 

 A key partner in the electric bus program was Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB).  KUB worked with KAT at the outset to ensure that KAT would have enough power to charge as many as twenty-five all-electric buses in coming years.  The charging stations for the first twelve buses are currently being installed. 

"This is an exciting day for Knoxville, and KUB is proud to be part of it," said Gabriel Bolas, KUB President and CEO. "KUB supports electric vehicles in our community, and we’re proud to be a partner with the City of Knoxville in building a more sustainable future." 

After today’s inaugural ride with members of City Council and other attendees, KAT will begin testing the buses on various routes, training operators in the optimal operating techniques, and preparing the vehicles to begin operating in regular service, currently scheduled for January. 

For Isaac Thorne, the City’s Director of Transit, this electric vehicle program is an added benefit to an already available climate solution: transit itself.  “Transportation is the heaviest contributor to climate change in the US; switching some trips to transit can change that, and electric transit holds the key to even greater benefits.  By drawing new people to consider transit, reducing reliance on cars, opening up opportunities, and providing sustainable mobility choices, transit can make cities more livable, make the air cleaner, and help meet our challenging but achievable climate goals.” 

It is expected that the first two bus routes that will see the electric buses in regular service are Routes 17 – Sutherland and 31 – Magnolia Avenue, although, Thorne says, the results of on-street trials over the next few months could change those plans.

Download this News Release as a PDF here.

Jan 29

Freedom Pass Program Offers Free Transit to all Knox County Students

Posted on January 29, 2021 at 9:23 AM by Savannah Kilday

Youth Freedom Pass

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon today announced a new pilot program that will allow all Knox County students, through high school, to ride Knoxville Area Transit buses at no charge.  

The new Freedom Pass will allow unlimited rides on KAT’s fixed route bus service through Dec. 31, 2021. 

“The City’s Freedom Pass program will increase access to after-school activities, jobs, parks, libraries and so much more at no cost to families,” Mayor Kincannon said. “This was a promise I made to voters on the campaign trail and one that could go a long way in enriching the lives of students, easing financial burdens and helping our environment all at the same time.”  

The new passes will be mailed to the parents of all Knox County public school students in grades 6-12. Younger students are not required to have a pass.

“This program will not replace the school-bus service provided by Knox County Schools, and the district will continue to offer before- and after-school transportation,” Superintendent Bob Thomas said. “However, we believe that making KAT service more affordable will help students pursue jobs or activities outside of school hours, and broaden their access to cultural institutions such as libraries, museums, and college campuses.”

Information about routes, bus stops and trip planning is available on the KAT website,, or by downloading the free KATbus Tracker App, which is available on the App Store for IOS users or on Google Play for Android users.

“The KAT Freedom Pass is an investment in your child and the Knoxville community,” Director of Transit Isaac Thorne said. “We are excited to launch this new initiative, and we look forward to welcoming more students on the bus.” 

Students with disabilities that do not allow them to ride regular fixed-route bus service are eligible to receive a similarly structured Freedom Pass that applies to the KAT LIFT service. For more information about KAT LIFT, please call (865) 637-3000.  

Home schooled and private school students wanting a Freedom Pass can visit the 
Knoxville Station customer service counter located at 301 Church Avenue. 

All other passes should be arriving in the mail in early February and can be used immediately. 

Download this News Release as a PDF here. 

Dec 21

KAT’s new Temporary Reduced Fare Structure Announced

Posted on December 21, 2020 at 11:27 AM by Savannah Kilday

New Reduced Fares-Feb. 2021
KAT has announced a return to charging fares, but with a new, temporary reduced fare structure that provides COVID recovery and relief from the economic impacts of the pandemic.   The new temporary fare structure, effective on Monday, February 1, 2021, is intended not only to provide some economic relief, but to also streamline passenger boardings, making them faster and limiting interactions between bus operators and passengers for improved safety.  The base fare will change from the previous fare of $1.50 down to $1.00.  Seniors, passengers with disabilities, and students K-12 (SDS) will have a base fare of $0.50 (previously $0.75). 


The new fare temporary structure is as follows: 

Fare Type 


Previous fare 

One Ride/Base Fare 

$1.00 (Regular)/ $0.50 (SDS) 

$1.50 (Regular) /$0.75 (SDS) 

Day Pass 

$2.00 (Regular) / $1.00 (SDS) 

$4.00 (Regular) / $2.00 (SDS) 

30-Day Pass 

$30.00 (Regular) / $15.00 (SDS) 

$50.00 (Regular) / $25.00 (SDS) 

20-Ride Pass 

$15.00 (Regular) / $7.50 (SDS) 

$25.00 (Regular) / $12.50 (SDS) 

Semester Pass 

$130 (remains the same


Lift Paratransit Ride 




With this new fare structure, 7-day passes and transfer passes are eliminated.  


“This new fare structure will help provide relief to working families as they recover from the economic challenges of the pandemic,” says Isaac Thorne, Director of Transit for the City of Knoxville.  “We have been very fortunate to have the support of the City of Knoxville along with federal COVID relief funding which allowed for us to operate fare-free, improving safety and reducing close interactions on our buses.  With the new streamlined temporary fare structure, we hope to continue operating safely while re-implementing our fare system.” 


The pandemic has created multiple challenges for transit: while providing trips for essential workers, KAT also had to limit seating on buses for better social distancing, which reduced capacity.  Fare-free service has meant more people riding more often, and has too often resulted in buses having to leave behind those going to jobs and other locations due to the half-capacity requirement.  In addition, a reduced workforce due to COVID has further reduced KAT’s capabilities, forcing KAT to operate on reduced service levels, further challenging those essential workers using the service. 


“It’s been the perfect storm,” says Thorne.  “But, we are hopeful that this new fare structure, along with promising news of the vaccine will begin to bring KAT back to a more normal operating system.” 


For the time being, KAT continues current safety protocols of providing masks and hand sanitizer on all vehicles, performing regular cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles, and reminding passengers of CDC safety recommendations. 


KAT hopes to keep the new temporary fare structure in place for at least six months.