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Columbia University Shuttles get Electric

Date: 
December 6, 2017
Content: 

Campus shuttle system will transition to electric buses, reducing emissions by 70%

Columbia University is plugging into the future of transportation.

The University has contracted to purchase six new battery-electric buses to replace the existing diesel-powered buses on its campus shuttle network. The new fleet – among the first electric buses to be introduced in New York City – offers both environmental and health benefits, including reduced emissions and noise pollution, and improved air quality.

“Electric buses support Columbia’s Sustainability Plan goals of reduced transportation emissions through greener campus fleets and commuting alternatives,” said David M. Greenberg, executive vice president of University Facilities and Operations. “We are excited to take this next step in our use of cleaner energy towards a more sustainable campus and community.”

Columbia’s campus shuttle network operates between campus locations in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Rockland County. The shuttles serve over 1,400 rider trips daily and travel nearly 180,000 miles annually. Transitioning to electric buses is expected to reduce University shuttle greenhouse gas emissions by over 270 metric tons, a 70% reduction in emissions from existing diesel shuttle buses.

“We have been evaluating transitioning to electric buses for several years, but questions remained about vehicle range and reliability,” said Scott Wright, vice president of Campus Services. “We are thrilled that the technology has advanced to ensure these buses will perform as dependably as their fossil fuel predecessors, only with minimal impact on the environment.”

The six Xcelsior forty-foot buses have seating capacity of 40 passengers, a battery capacity of 480 kilowatt hours and can travel over 200 miles on a single charge. The purchase of the buses, which includes three charging stations, is supported by a grant from New York State Electric Vehicle Voucher Incentive Funds, a program which focuses on advancing clean vehicle technologies in New York.

In addition to reduced emissions and noise, electric buses offer significant savings in fuel and maintenance costs. The buses are also built for accessibility with improved step height, expanded front door widths and a flatter entry ramp for passengers with mobility devices. Columbia’s Intercampus Shuttle is free of charge for members of the local community with disabilities, the elderly and their companions, as well as individuals with service animals.

Manufactured by New Flyer and operated by Academy Bus, the new electric buses will begin operating on Columbia campus shuttle routes as early as the summer of 2018.