The University of California Irvine announced that it is acquiring 20 electric buses from BYD for a cool $15 million to electrify its campus shuttle service, the Anteater Express.
The UCI bus system is unique in that it is student funded and operated and as such, the students were able to make the decision to pay just a little more — $40 extra per student, per quarter — to the Associated Students of UCI to cover the bus purchase and startup costs. That essentially nets out to prepayment for use of the system, as individual rides on the shuttles are free.
The new all-electric buses are being built in BYD’s plant in nearby Lancaster (California) and are scheduled to arrive on campus in the 17/18 school year.
ASUCI President Tracy La said of the bus line upgrade:
“Once again, UCI is No. 1 in making sure we have a sustainable future. I hope the rest of the country can follow us, I hope other colleges and universities will do this.”
With universities often acting as hubs for high density housing areas for students, it is that much more important to convert university-run bus lines as well as city-run metro lines supporting universities and students to electric. This move by the UCI team supports the broader University of California’s pledge to emit net-zero greenhouse gases from university buildings and vehicles by 2025.
While de-segmenting emissions from the point of use is a great first step, the electricity used to power the vehicles must still be driven to zero to meet this goal.
BYD Americas President Stella Li said of the move:
“UCI is taking an important step, becoming the first college campus in the country with an all-electric transit fleet. 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.”
While BYD may have a vested interest in touting UCI’s leadership and dangling the carrot of clean transportation for other universities around the world, converting transportation to electric as quickly as possible is a very straightforward step for universities (and cities!) to take to cut emissions while saving money on fuel and maintenance at the same time.
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