UT Transit Services to make bus fleet ‘greener’

August 18, 2011 | News, UToday
By Josh Martin

Transit Services already is using some of its new fuel-efficient buses.

Transit Services already is using some of its new fuel-efficient buses.

While the University’s public busing already helps campus community members reduce their carbon footprints, the service soon will become even more eco-conscious as UT’s fleet of buses is upgraded this summer to feature more fuel-efficient vehicles.

According to Steve Wise, manager of facilities and construction, the five oldest of UT’s 13 buses dating back to the early 1990s will be replaced with four newer and larger buses that are up to 20 percent more fuel-efficient. The new buses also will generate 90 percent less harmful emissions than current buses and satisfy 2007 EPA efficiency standards.

Perhaps most notably, though, the fleet will feature its first hybrid bus, which is expected to provide up to a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency with corresponding reductions in generated harmful emissions, Wise said. It will bring UT’s bus fleet up to 14 vehicles.

Wise said the vehicle will utilize capacitors instead of nickel metal-hydride batteries and will thus “avoid the usual drawback of mid-life battery replacement.”

The hybrid bus also will “weigh less than half as much as a comparable battery system” and feature ground fault circuit interrupters that make the battery low-voltage and thus safer, he added.

The hybrid will be one of the most heavily used buses on campus and will accommodate about 15 people. It will serve as UT’s primary paratransit vehicle for community members using mobility devices such as wheelchairs.

In addition, the vehicle will be used for charters and be assigned a fixed route service during non-peak hours of operation.

The hybrid bus is expected to arrive on campus in the next few weeks. Two of the fuel-efficient buses are already on campus, and the rest of the buses are expected to be in place by the beginning of fall semester.

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