Electric-Powered Bus Fuels Discussion On Mid-Missouri Campus

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ROLLA- April will see the opening on a Missouri college campus of the first-ever campus shuttle bus and it's powered by electricity.

Students at the Missouri University of Science and Technology can reduce their carbon footprints thanks to public transportation, but the new bus itself is also energy efficient.

According to S&T, the Missouri S&T eBus is a "fully electric-powered, plug-in shuttle with its own charging station on campus." The bus can run about 70 to 100 miles before it needs another charge. The bus also releases fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

"Your carbon footprint is going to be reduced, but at the same time there is an impact on the utility power grid, because now you are charging your bus from the electricity of the grid," Associate Professor Dr. Mehdi Ferdowsi said.

"It's two very large battery racks that are powering a very large motor," Graduate Assistant and Student Sustainability Coordinator Cory Brennan said.

The Missouri University of Science and Technology recently received a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase the electric bus shuttle. 

Brennan said the University waited three years for the bus to arrive on campus this past school year. 

Bus Driver Windle Lloyd said the bus is pretty simple because you let the machine do most of the work.

"It's not really complicated," Lloyd said. "When we first started running, they wanted to know how to operate it, what it took to keep it charged, and all that good stuff."

The director, Angela Rolufs, who manages sustainable energy on campus said the eBus was purchased to help protect the environment and to promote energy independence. Rolufs said in the future the department hopes to incorporate an educational component for the eBus.

"The shuttle is a great opportunity for students to study and experience electric travel first hand," Rolufs said.

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Dr. Mehdi Ferdowsi, is in charge of leading the observation for the eBus. He plans to examine the shuttle's integration into the campus and to research the life cycle of the bus and its batteries. Dr. Ferdowsi told KOMU 8 NEWS that a public survey will soon be administered on campus to document if the public likes the bus.

Another piece of the future that Missouri S&T will have to consider is how to fund the eBus after the grant money runs out.

"We will get there, where you will break even and then start saving money," Rolufs said. "Because you're not filling up this big bus with diesel or gasoline."

The eBus can house 22 seated passengers and another 10 standing passengers. There is currently no charge for the bus, thanks to the grant, but campus representatives are currently looking for other funding options in order to keep the bus running.

For more information about the eBus, visit the Missouri University of Science and Technology's Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engagement at ose3.mst.edu.