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UVa purchases four electric buses

The University of Virginia is adding four 35-foot battery-powered buses to its transit fleet next year as a part of a transition from diesel-powered vehicles to electric.

The university announced the bus purchases Tuesday. The University Transit Service, which is operated by UVA’s Department of Parking and Transportation, has about 40 buses in its fleet. The zero-emission buses will be manufactured by Proterra, a California-based company.

“We’re excited to introduce battery electric buses to our University Transit fleet,” UVa Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Wagner Davis said in the release. “The decisions we make each day are important to help us achieve long-term sustainability goals. I’m grateful to the University’s Committee on Sustainability for its forward-thinking approach and to the Parking and Transportation team for their enthusiastic partnership.”

According to UVa, a UTS bus uses about 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. Replacing four of the diesel buses with an electric vehicle would cut UTS’s carbon emissions by about 400 metric tons annually. UVa is working toward being carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil fuel-free by 2050, according to annual its sustainability report.

“We are thrilled to announce this step to help the University reach its goal of being fossil fuel-free by 2050,” said Rebecca White, UVa’s director of parking and transportation, in the release.

In order to operate and charge the buses, UVa will install three charging stations at the Parking and Transportation headquarters. Each station can charge two buses at a time. One bus can fully charged within four hours. When two buses are being charged at the same station, fully charging them takes seven hours.

“Operating factors such as distance, average speed, elevation changes, regenerative braking, and heating and cooling needs all affect how many hours each bus can go between charges,” according to the release. “UTS operations will be adjusted to meet the needs of riders while allowing for midday charges.”

UVa’s parking and transportation staff started researching electric buses in fall 2020. That included consulting with other universities and localities that have used battery electric buses.

“This is a significant milestone in the University’s journey to implement sustainable practices across our operations,” said Colette Sheehy, UVa’s senior vice president for operations and state government relations, in the news release. “I’m grateful to Becca White and the entire P&T team for their commitment to helping the University achieve its sustainability goals while continuing to meet the transportation needs of students, faculty, staff and UVA Health team members. I look forward to seeing the new battery electric buses in action on Grounds next year.”


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