The University of Alabama will spend $10 million, including nearly $8 million in federal grant money, to begin electrifying its Crimson Ride fleet of buses, the school announced Wednesday.

Adam Jones, a spokesperson for the University, said the bus service gives around 2 million rides to students and visitors to the Tuscaloosa campus.

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The federal funds will be matched by $2 million from the University and will pay for eight new electric buses, charging infrastructure and training for workers to service the buses.

“Modifying the current fleet will allow the Crimson Ride Transit to meet the campus population growth while moving resources where they can be best utilized,” UA President Stuart Bell said in a release. “The transfer to electric buses will reduce emissions and have an immediate impact on our area.”

Jones said the federal cash is coming from the United States Department of Transit Administration, which is investing $1.66 billion in bus fleets and facilities around the country.

The University is also home to the Alabama Transportation Institute, the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and the recently announced Alabama Mobility and Power Center, which made the campus a natural fit for these federal funds and the only university to directly receive them.

Jones said researchers at UA will also arrange and oversee a unique study of how the electric vehicle technology behaves -- data that will aid future efforts to reduce the prevalence of gasoline-powered machines.

“If society wants to reach zero emissions, we need to move to an electrical vehicle ecosystem while at the same time moving to renewable energy,” said Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian, the executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies and chief mobility research and development officer for the Alabama Transportation Institute. “This initiative not only plays a role in helping reduce emissions, but the research and workforce development components, in partnership with industry, strengthen UA and the Tuscaloosa area in becoming a hub for electric vehicles while ensuring the state’s profile for innovation in electric vehicles is strong.”

 

According to the announcement, the buses and their crews will be phased in to use on campus over the next few years.

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