Business & Economy Campus News

Electric buses to arrive on UGA campus 

The University of Georgia has established a contract to purchase up to 20 Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses. The move is a significant step forward in reducing carbon emissions and increasing alternative transportation options for the UGA campus transit system, one of the largest of its kind in the country.

“Adding electric buses to the UGA fleet will dramatically reduce transportation, maintenance and operating costs for the university, which will in turn help to keep student fees low,” said Don Walter, interim associate director, Auxiliary Services and director, Transportation and Parking Services.

Energy costs for operating the electric buses amount to less than $10 per day per bus, compared to energy costs for a diesel bus that total $90 per day per bus. The new buses also will have twice the horsepower and five times the efficiency of a diesel bus.

The buses will be configured to meet specifications laid out by the university that are designed to meet needs specific to campus. “The addition of the buses—which offer a smooth, quiet ride with zero emissions—will make the electric bus fleet at UGA one of the largest in the U.S.,” said Walter.

After receiving a $10 million grant from the GO! Transit Capital Program administered by Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority, the university evaluated and tested electric bus technology to ensure that students, faculty, staff and visitors would receive the best electric bus possible. Tests evaluated several features including bus capacity, handling, turning, hill climbing, battery range, rider and driver experience, acceleration, braking, maintenance and durability.

The state of Georgia conducted a similar testing and review process and selected Proterra as a statewide vendor for electric buses, enabling the university to procure its new buses under a statewide contract.

Built nearby in South Carolina, the Proterra Catalyst bus holds records for acceleration and torque as well as distance traveled by an electric vehicle on a single charge, at more than 1,100 miles.

The positive benefits of electric bus technology go beyond maintenance and operations. The buses will advance research and fieldwork opportunities for students and faculty in the College of Engineering by providing access to live field data. Additionally, in an emergency, the batteries have the potential to supply power to buildings that have been appropriately modified.

The buses are expected to arrive on campus during the next academic year.