It’s electric!

Eric Bennett / UAF Sun Star

A new bus has arrived on campus that is the first of its kind, one that is zero emission. This electric shuttle is set to replace one of the normal shuttles starting Apr.-May. It will only run during the summer months because it has smaller wheels than other shuttles and finding snow tires for it has been difficult. What’s more, the electric shuttle has no heater.

“It could be pretty unpleasant,” Christi Kemper, staff assistant at the Office of Sustainability, said.

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Photo courtesy of the UAF Sustainability and Recycling Facebook page.

The new shuttle, which costs approximately $37,000, will hold 16 passengers and will traverse the route from the Wood Center to West Ridge. In addition, it is ADA approved, which means it has wheelchair access.

To aid in the operation of the shuttle, it is topped with a solar panel that will help keep it charged on sunny days. However, unlike the normal shuttles that can run all day, the electric shuttle will have to be put on a slightly different schedule to keep the battery charged.

“It could run for a half day, run for three-fourths an hour and then charge, or it could run like a regular shuttle and charge during the driver’s breaks,” Kemper said.

The electric shuttle was paid for by the Student Sustainability fee, which is a $20 fee that every student pays each semester. The fee was the main contribution towards the cost of the bus as a part of the student proposal system, which allows anyone to make suggestions to the Office of Sustainability on what campus can do to reduce waste, save energy and increase sustainability.

“I researched different companies and I also was in the process of doing an inventory on the school’s carbon footprint then I had to make some calculations and I also had to calculate how much the shuttle would save the university on fuel cost vs electricity,” Kaitlyn Moneymaker said.

In Feb. of last year, Moneymaker submitted the proposal for an electric campus shuttle.

“As a community, we should always be aware of our carbon footprint and start using ways to make it smaller, and that is why I chose this project,” Moneymaker said in her proposal. “The current shuttles average about $38 in fuel a day and the electric shuttle can be fully charged for $3.24 a day at 20 cents a kilowatt hour.”

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1 Response

  1. Caleb Bizzarro says:

    Ive thought extensively on the electric bus idea for about 3 years. What would be more beneficial would be to outfit this bus with better lithium ion battery packs as well as 2 electric motors, if possible collaborate or speak with a representative of Tesla and see what possible options there are to extend battery life, half charge time, and effectively increase efficiency. Even having the electric bus be a engineering project for the students to further improve and critique would offer the young engineers of tomorrow to tinker and explore a widely developing field.

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