The location for a new bus stop near the Sorenson education building for a new electric shuttle through campus, Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

For public transit-savvy students, a zero-emissions commute is on the horizon.

The Utah Transit Authority and the University of Utah received a $5.4 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority to purchase and maintain five zero-emissions electric buses. Three of the vehicles will operate on UTA route 2, which runs from Salt Lake Central Station to Presidents Circle along 200 South, while the remaining two circulate the U on a new shuttle route through the center of campus.

While the U has been running an all-electric campus shuttle on a trial basis for over a year now, the new additions will be UTA’s first zero-emissions buses.

“It’s part of our core mission here at UTA to minimize the emissions from our vehicles,” said UTA spokesperson Remi Barron. “We’re really excited to finally be able to start getting electric buses into full service.”

According to the UTA, each bus will save the equivalent of 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, along with a total of more than 175 million metric tons of emissions.

The two new campus shuttles, built by a company called New Flyer, will join the electric shuttle already in circulation. Although the bus currently in use was built by New Flyer competitor Complete Coach Works, campus shuttle manager Chad Larsen doesn’t foresee any integration difficulty.

“It’s a different manufacturer, but the idea is still to be able to WAVE target,” Larsen said, referring to the electromagnetic charging system currently in use. “We hope to put the new [charging] technology on it so the new bus will charge just like the other one.”

The FTA grant also provides UTA with money to purchase and construct a similar charging apparatus for their downtown station.

UTA will be conducting test runs along route 2 beginning in mid-May, using a bus provided by New Flyer. The full five bus fleet, is expected to arrive in late 2017 or early 2018.

Updated Aug 25, 2016 to correct the amount of the Federal Transit Authority grant.


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