By Greg Trevor
The University of Georgia has been awarded $7.46 million under the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program to purchase an additional 13 electric buses.
The funding, along with UGA’s 30% matching share, will grow the university’s fleet to 33 electric buses, representing a tremendous step forward in reducing emissions and increasing opportunities for experiential learning and research.
Twenty electric buses were purchased in April 2019 through a competitive grant from the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority and are currently in production at the Proterra Inc. plant in Greenville, South Carolina. These buses will begin arriving on campus later this month and are anticipated to go into service this academic year, giving UGA one of the largest electric bus fleets of any university in North America.
“The University of Georgia is continually seeking ways to increase the efficiency and sustainability of our campus operations,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “The purchase of additional electric buses with funds from the Federal Transit Administration will help us achieve these important institutional objectives.”
Earlier this year, the university built an expandable state-of-the-art charging facility on Riverbend Road to prepare for the electric buses already scheduled to arrive on campus. With this infrastructure in place, the FTA grant funding will be used to purchase electric buses without the need for additional charging capacity.
A fleet of 33 electric buses will significantly lower life-cycle costs for the university. The expected useful life of electric buses far exceeds the 12-year standard for diesel buses. Fuel costs will decrease by approximately 90%, and with no internal combustion engine or transmission, maintenance costs will be drastically reduced as well.
Having a large fleet of electric buses on campus also creates opportunities for faculty and students to use field assets in their research and studies. UGA Auxiliary Services has partnered with the College of Engineering to work with four student teams as they complete capstone projects related to electric bus technology. Auxiliary Services also has partnered with the college on proposals for two transportation-related National Science Foundation grants. These projects have the potential to advance electric bus technology and improve lives through better transportation worldwide.
“The positive benefits that come from receiving this grant are remarkable,” said Robert Holden, associate vice president for Auxiliary Services. "In addition to reducing costs and contributing to research, advancing electric bus technology on our campus will allow us to provide better, cleaner transportation for the community by significantly reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
The additional buses are anticipated to be purchased within the next year.
Greg Trevor is UGA's executive director for media communications.