By: Emely Miranda
The University of Maryland (UMD) will transition from diesel to electric buses with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. UMD President Darryl J. Pines issued a press release on June 29 announcing the grant, which totaled just under $40 million.
The funding will allow the university to replace 35 of the 48 shuttles currently in service. UMD will continue to seek additional funding to make the full transition. The buses that are taken out of service will be surplused.
“This grant award is a tremendous opportunity for the university, and swift implementation of this project will ensure continued service reliability, maintain a state of good repair, improve air quality, and advance environmental justice in the greater College Park community,” the university’s Department of Transportation noted.
In 2007, UMD joined the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, now called the Carbon Commitment, which works to educate students about the importance of achieving climate neutrality and sustainability as part of a larger effort to address climate change. The university has published two climate action plans; the most recent was released in 2017. The plans aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and establish a zero-emissions vehicle fleet for the university by 2035.
Even with campus growth, the university reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions by 54% between 2005 and 2021. UMD is also working to reduce energy consumption and has purchased all of the electricity used on campus from renewable sources since 2020. The university now offers a sustainability studies minor sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in partnership with the School of Public Policy.
The university’s Build America Center, a multi-institutional partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Build America Bureau, determined that replacing diesel buses with electric ones will lower fuel consumption by 99.7% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78%.