Auburn University welcomes new buses to campus this week, including three hybrid electric buses, following their long trek from California. However, the buses will not run until the fall, with current diesel buses finishing out the remainder of the summer. Summer transportation hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of the week.
Starting June 21, the university should begin receiving a minimum of five hybrid electric buses each week. These will not fully replace the current diesel fleet of 70 until the end of September.
In total, Auburn with be host to 10 hybrid electric buses and 50 diesel ones by the fall. All are 35-foot buses, matching the size of the current ones. Additionally, four smaller buses will be received to replace the old smaller buses. Auburn Transportation Services plans to have 35 to 40 operational new buses by the start of the fall semester.
“We normally run fifty-seven buses during the fall,” said Don Andrae, director of transportation services. “That means twenty of them will still be the older buses. We will rotate them out as soon as we can, but again it will probably be the end of September before we have all seventy ready to operate.”
The long-awaited hybrid electric buses will be operating electrically on the Central Campus area. They will not be emitting any fumes or noise while on campus. Additionally, their diesel engines will cut off any time the bus stops while it is not on Central Campus grounds, much like a hybrid car.
The bus will also feature both front and back doors, making it a smoother and quicker transition for passengers to enter and exit the bus. While the buses will continue to halt at every bus stop, there will no longer be a wait. Pull cords will be implemented to serve as indicators for passengers to use when they want to get off. This system should cut down on transit times, making transportation faster for students.
“There are several positive impacts that the buses will have on the efficiency of the transit operation,” said Andrae. “When the cord is pulled it alerts the driver that a stop has been requested.”
In addition, there will be audio announcements to alert rides of the next stop on the route and a visual display of the next stop will be added before fall 2023. The visual displays were created with the audibly impaired in mind, as Auburn University seeks to serve every student’s needs. Already, there are visual displays outside of the bus and on the back of the bus in order for students to be able to identify their bus before approaching it.
Both the hybrid electric and diesel buses will have an accessible ramp at the front door that folds out to accommodate its passengers. The buses also conveniently lower several feet on the front end when passengers are loading, accommodating the elderly and physically disabled to make for an easier entrance.
The buses will be wider, making for a significant increase in standing room on each bus. Old buses were limited to a capacity of 40 passengers maximum; New buses will now allow up to 50.
Each bus is equipped with charging stations for phones, as well as WiFi. As a custom touch, the seats have blue blacks with an interlocking AU on each one. Finally, bike racks will still be available to hold up to two bicycles on the front of every bus.
Over the summer, Auburn Transportation Services will be training current bus drivers with the technology for the new buses. Their hope is that the brand-new buses encourage more students to utilize the transit system this fall and moving forward. For more information, visit www.auburn.edu/administration/parking_transit/transit/.
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