Last year, UTA and the University of Utah said that they had plans to purchase five new electric buses with the money they received from a federal grant. Three buses will run on UTA’s route 2 and the remaining two will operate on the U’s campus. The $5.4 million grant was announced last April, but there hasn’t been much news since then.
“We should receive the buses sometime in November or December of 2017, although I don’t know if they will be fully operational and implemented into our shuttle routes quite that fast,” said Shea Renner, with Commuter Services at the U. “We will utilize them as soon as we are able, and will coordinate with campus to make sure the transition is smooth for everyone involved.”
In a city known for terrible air quality, the electric buses are a step toward cleaner air for students at the U and residents of Salt Lake City. The new electric buses are currently undergoing test trials before assuming their new routes.
Each of the five new buses will run without a drop of gas. These all-electric buses are projected to “save the equivalent of 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. For the three electric buses UTA will be operating on route 2, that’s a savings of approximately 175 metric tons of gas emissions per year” according to UTA.
The implementation of electric buses is part of UTA’s long-term goal to provide environmentally friendly public transportation.
There is one electric bus already in service at the U, though its new route through the center of campus is currently on hold. Announced in past years, the route, beginning at Milton Bennion Hall and running through central campus, is still in the works. The route was originally set to be finished fall semester of 2016, but recent construction has made it impossible for the electric bus to use it.
“The WAVE electric bus is currently running on campus every day, but will change the route to run through the center of campus on the electric shuttle road as soon as we can access the road with no construction impacts,” Renner said. “We hope to have the new shuttle schedule up and running fall of 2017, but I can’t give that as a firm date as it’s contingent upon construction, which we don’t have control over.”