The University of California – Irvine is one of the few colleges that operates its own student funded and operated transportation system. It is called the Anteater Express. This week, it signed up to acquire 20 electric buses from BYD for a total of $15 million. BYD will build the buses at its factory in nearby Lancaster, California and deliver them during the 2017 – 2018 school year. Students at the college voted to contribute $40 per quarter each to have zero emissions transportation on their campus. Anteater Express already has one hydrogen fuel cell powered electric bus in its fleet.
“Once again, UCI is No. 1 in making sure we have a sustainable future,” said ASUCI President Tracy La. The campus has twice been voted the Sierra Club’s “Coolest School,” among other environmental awards. La, like many of her classmates, has relied depends on the buses to get between classes and her job. “I hope the rest of the country can follow us,” she says. “I hope other colleges and universities will do this.”
Other schools have added some alternative energy vehicles to their campus transportation systems in recent years, but UCI is the first to completely scrap its traditional diesel powered buses, university officials claim. “I’m very excited and proud to be part of a university that’s committed to making great strides toward a more sustainable future for us all,” La said.
“Thanks to a phenomenal partnership between our student organization and the divisions of Student Affairs and Administrative & Business Services, this fall we will move our students in a fleet of zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles – and be the first university in the country to do so!” said Dan Dooros, associate vice chancellor of student affairs.
“UCI is taking an important step, becoming the first college campus in the country with an all-electric transit fleet,” said Stella Li, president of BYD America. “This forward-looking decision is proof of what many in higher education already know: that electric vehicles aren’t a far-off technology of the future but are here and ready to be put to use today. BYD is proud to be providing these 20 high-quality, California made buses to UC Irvine.”
Tracy La, who is 21, gives credit to a student referendum in 2013 that called for expansing and updating of the popular but sometimes over crowded campus transportation system. Including a requirement that the new buses use clean energy helped the measure pass, La says. In a survey of students last year, researchers found that providing electric buses instead of conventional diesel powered vehicles was given the highest priority by respondents.
“The hydrogen electric bus emits no carbon – neither does the battery electric bus,” said engineering professor Scott Samuelsen, who heads the National Fuel Cell Research Center. He noted acknowledges that the production of hydrogen and electricity does generate carbon dioxide, but believes advances in technology will make those energy sources carbon free in the next few years. California leads all US states in promoting renewable energy sources for its electricity.
Source: Electric Cars Report Image credit: UC – Irvine