UAA Takes Charge

UAA is currently participating with Cascadia Corp. in a trial run
that requires the school to test its hybrid bus. Thursday, Nov. 20
was the fi rst day of the trial, and the bus is fi lling in as the express
shuttle, taking students from the Commons to the Bookstore then to
Rasmuson Hall and back to the Commons.
The shuttle looks like a traditional yellow school bus, but instead
it is painted white and is equipped with two batteries on each side of
the bus’ body and the front features an outlet that is used to plug in
the shuttle each night. The hybrid shuttle seats 44 people and runs for
eight hours, taking the same amount of time to achieve full battery
power. Due to the fact that the shuttle is currently running as an
express shuttle, it is only in service Mondays through Thursdays.
Formerly a form of transportation for Denali Park, the bus has
been donated to UAA at no cost for a demo run, and from there the
university will decide whether or not it chooses to convert the current
shuttle system into the more effi cient hybrid system. The vehicle was
ideal for Denali Park as it traveled 96 miles in and 96 miles out,
providing a safe form of transportation for the rugged terrain and
holding a large number of people. The goal of Cascadia Corp. is to
study the hybrid shuttle’s performance in the city with emphasis on
start-and-stop transportation; such as we have here at UAA.
The shuttles runs on battery power until it hits 35 mph and
then switches to diesel, and because of this it is an ideal form of
transportation for UAA. Shuttles currently make constant stops and
follow slow speeds that do not exceed speeds of over 35 mph. If the
hybrid is successful in transporting students and proves to be more
effi cient, it will be implemented into our transportation system with
the recommendations of Facilities Maintenance Operations.
The hybrid shuttle will participate in the trial run for the
remainder of the semester and will continue next semester until
the end of February. Until the end of the trial run, Director of
Facilities Maintenance Operations Chris Mizelle and Transportation
Supervisor Mark Findlay will assess the progress of the hybrid shuttle
and will report to upper administration, including the Executive Vice
Chancellor Dr. Bill Spindle and Chancellor Fran Ulmer.
“We probably will move towards the hybrid form in our new
buses, as we buy new buses. If we like the hybrid and it gets good
fuel mileage and we don’t have too many problems, we’ll probably
go that route,” Mizelle said.
The hybrid shuttle is currently only a demonstration-geared
form of transportation, and Facilities Management will continue to
observe its progress for the remainder of the semester and the next. If
the hybrid is implemented in the near future, it is likely that the new
shuttles will take a similar form, like the shuttles we currently have,
as opposed to the bus.
Looking at the sustainability side of the new hybrid shuttle, it
seats nearly twice as many people and runs mostly on battery which
reduces fuel emissions and saves the university money on fuel.
“With the improvement in technology, by the time we actually go
out and buy one, we’ll have even more fuel economy and less fuel
emissions,” Mizelle said.
However, investments in the new hybrid shuttle will require the
university to spend more than twice as much on the purchase of the
new shuttles. Compared to the $86,000 price of the current shuttles,
the university would be able to purchase new hybrid shuttles at
$216,000 apiece. Though this is quite a signifi cant increase, the price
has decreased almost $100,000 in the past two years, and through
implementing the new hybrid system, the university would save
more in fuel economy and signifi cantly reduce its carbon footprint.
“We’re just going to see how it works for us,” Findlay said.