Tulane Receives Award to Demonstrate Electric Shuttle Buses

Tulane University and several local partners have been awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for an initiative to use shuttle buses powered by electricity. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

NEW ORLEANS – A Tulane University initiative to use shuttle buses powered by electricity has been awarded $737,500 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The project is one of 55 selected research and demonstration projects that will further new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies with assistance from the EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office. 

Tulane will purchase five Grande West Vicinity transit buses with electric vehicle technology and install five private charging stations to support them. The shuttle buses will service the regular university shuttle route that links Tulane’s uptown and downtown campuses and affiliate programs. During the three-year project, Tulane staff will collect and analyze data on the operating performance and costs of the EV shuttle buses, with the goal of sharing Tulane’s experience with fleet managers in the New Orleans region and at other universities. 

The project team will test expectations that the EV shuttle buses are less expensive to operate and maintain. The vehicles use EV technology that is widely used in full-size buses but has only recently become available in a smaller transit model.

“Working with our bus provider, Alliance Bus Group, we had identified the Vicinity electric shuttle bus as the most promising model for our next purchase,” said Brian Lowe, director of Tulane Transportation and Parking. “The DOE funding gives us support to move forward now.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for Tulane as we work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from university operations,” said Patrick Norton, Tulane’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “Tulane’s shuttles are highly visible in the greater New Orleans area and our ridership averages over 160,000 annually. We are confident that the impacts of this project will extend beyond the boundaries of our physical campuses. By sharing our operational, financial and environmental impact experiences and data, we hope to serve as a blueprint for other institutions in our region.”

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