Tulane University has received $737,500 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the purchase of five electric Grand West Vicinity buses and the installation of private charging stations, New Orleans City Business reports.
This initiative is a collaboration between Tulane University Campus Services and Tulane ByWater Institute along with local partners Alliance Bus Group, Entergy, and the Southeast Louisiana Clean Fuel Partnership.
The new electric buses are slated to service the regular university shuttle route linking Tulane’s uptown and downtown campuses and affiliate programs. The project will span over three years, and during this time, Tulane staff will collect and analyze data on the new buses. This data will include the operating performance of the buses, their cost, and the goal of sharing Tulane’s experience with fleet managers in the New Orleans region as well as other universities.
Patrick Norton, Tulane’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, shared his thoughts in the university’s press release about the news. “This is an exciting opportunity for Tulane as we work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from university operations,” said Norton. “Tulane’s shuttles are highly visible in the greater New Orleans area and our ridership averages over 160,000 annually. We are confident that the impacts of this project will extend beyond the boundaries of our physical campuses. By sharing our operational, financial, and environmental impact experiences and data, we hope to serve as a blueprint for other institutions in our region.”
Tulane University to Purchase five Vicinity Motors Corp. Transit Buses with Electric Vehicle (EV) technology
“Vicinity is doing for buses what Tesla did for cars”https://t.co/Q4uZnPhUDr$BUSXF #Transportation #BusManufacturinghttps://t.co/IlcxAhWEis pic.twitter.com/jvWug66TG6
— Grande West (@GrandeWestTrans) April 1, 2021
The project team expect that the electric shuttle buses are less expensive to operate and maintain, and will test that out. The new buses will use EV technology that is used in full-sized buses but has just recently become available in a smaller transit model. Brian Lowe, director of Tulane Transportation and Parking, touched upon the partnership with Alliance Bus Group and how they chose the Vicinity electric shuttle.
“Working with our bus provider, Alliance Bus Group, we had identified the Vicinity electric shuttle bus as the most promising model for our next purchase,” said Lowe. “The DOE funding gives us support to move forward now.”
Liz Davey, director of Tulane’s Office of Sustainability, noted the benefits of using electric shuttle buses to eliminate pollutants. “In the short term, using EV shuttle buses will eliminate pollutants in the exhaust of diesel fuel, which contribute to air pollution that has local health impacts, such as lung and heart damage,” said Davey.
She and Shelley Meaux, assistant director of the Bywater Institute, are the project’s principal investigators. “In the longer term, especially as electricity generation moves to more clean and renewable sources, the use of electric vehicles will also reduce our carbon footprint.”
Seth Cureington, the Entergy New Orleans economic development and technology innovation director, shared more thoughts about the clean energy future of New Orleans. “Part of a clean energy future for New Orleans includes the electrification of transportation,” said Cureington. “Tulane University’s shuttle bus project is an example of how Entergy New Orleans can partner with organizations and businesses in support of their sustainability goals.”
Courtney Young, director of the Southeast Louisiana Clean Fuel Partnership, stated, “Always ahead of the curve, Tulane was one of the first universities in the region to install EV charging stations on campus for students, faculty, and staff.” She also added, “Similarly, the electric shuttle bus project is the first of its kind in our area, so we’re looking forward to understanding and showcasing results to comparable fleets as a potential replicable solution to replace the older model, highly polluting diesel shuttles in our communities.”