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Princeton’s electrical bus fleet is now rolling

Princeton College’s formidable and influential campus plan for sustainable vitality use reached one other milestone this fall when the College celebrated its new fleet of electrical buses and charging services at a grand opening ceremony Oct. 26.

“TigerTransit’s 17 new electrical buses advance our campus sustainability objectives [and] exemplify the modifications we’re pursuing as an establishment and as a society,” Princeton College President Christopher L. Eisgruber stated on the occasion, held on the College’s new bus-charging station at 755 Alexander St. in West Windsor. “They remove 500 metric tons of tailpipe emissions from the campus and native communities, yearly. Our air is cleaner due to this mission.”

The buses are a part of a campus-wide plan to attain net-zero carbon emissions that’s serving as a template for different universities and municipalities throughout the nation, together with a large geo-exchange system for campus heating and cooling.

All of Princeton’s full-size buses are actually absolutely electrical. When the final diesel mini-buses are retired later this educational yr, Princeton would be the first Ivy League college and one in all only a few transit or shuttle operations within the nation that operates solely emissions-free automobiles.

“A yr in the past, this was gravel, tumbleweeds, and a few storage containers,” stated Charlie Tennyson, Princeton’s director of Transportation & Parking Companies, searching on the charging station. “In the present day, it’s one of many largest electrical transit car charging services within the nation.”

Princeton now will get practically 20% of its campus electrical energy from the College’s personal system of photo voltaic panels. The 5-acre array of photo voltaic panels right here, located above one of many heaps the place Princeton fees its EV buses, accounts for simply over 10% of the College’s put in photo voltaic capability.

Extra on Princeton’s campus sustainability

Princeton’s campus is an energetic laboratory for improvements in sustainability which can be inspiring different campuses and cities.


The choice to exchange Princeton’s complete transit fleet with electrical automobiles (EVs) was not a simple or apparent one, the College’s government vp, Katie Callow-Wright, famous on the ceremony.

When planning started three years in the past, the decision-making course of was in depth. “There actually was not a playbook for us to seek advice from,” Tennyson stated later. “Trying again, it’s superb to consider how a lot time and analysis it took to make the selection to purchase electrical buses and infrastructure, and the way a lot we realized.”

Daring guess on sustainability

Many universities and regional transit authorities have begun electrifying their bus fleets, however most decommission and exchange one or a couple of diesel buses at a time on account of operational and infrastructure constraints. As Princeton was set to decommission its former diesel fleet without delay, it had the distinctive alternative to affect its complete fleet in a single effort.

Within the spirit of the College’s casual motto, “within the nation’s service and the service of humanity,” Tennyson and WeDriveU, which operates the TigerTransit shuttle system, convened a summit a week earlier than the grand opening so Princeton’s transportation staff may assist shorten the training curve for peer universities and others who’re contemplating the transition.

The summit introduced collectively 70 representatives from greater than 20 utilities, transit operators, and universities from throughout the nation, together with a number of Ivy League faculties, Stanford College, Montclair State College, Lehigh College, New Jersey Transit, WeDriveU, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Washington College in St. Louis, the College of Michigan, Genentech, and Google.


That dialogue amongst specialists educated in all features of bus electrification — energy, planning, logistics — is what Tennyson informed attendees he wished had existed three years in the past, when Princeton started its journey to an all-electric fleet.

“No system will be copied precisely from one college to a different, however we are able to share our thought processes, how we determined which gear to make use of, how we labored via the challenges and logistics,” stated Amanda Stevens, the assistant director for campus engagement with Transportation & Parking Companies.

The day-long session included excursions of each new charging services, the newly refurbished Stadium Storage, and remarks from a number of leaders in net-zero analysis and implementation.

Debby Foster, Princeton’s deputy vp for College Companies, praised the “tireless work” by Tennyson and advisor companions like Paulo Nunes-Ueno that made the fleet conversion doable, describing how they dug into efficiency information, talked with trade specialists and visited electrical bus services from Westchester County, New York, to California’s Bay Space.

“It was their in depth analysis, Foster stated, “that actually gave me the boldness to go to College management and say, ‘Sure, that is the appropriate system for Princeton. That is the appropriate answer. We discovered the appropriate buses. We discovered the appropriate charging gear.’ 

President Eisgruber standing in front of an electric bus with other people

President Eisgruber (heart) talks on the Oct. 26 occasion with (from left): Alana Bernys, services and transportation chair for the Graduate Scholar Authorities (GSG); Stephen Daniels, president of the Undergraduate Scholar Authorities (USG); Christopher Catalano, vp of the GSG; and Charlie Tennyson, director of Transportation & Parking Companies.

Free to all, and accessible

The Xcelsior battery electrical buses (XE35), manufactured by New Flyer, have a spread of 120 to 200 miles and may run for 12 hours in temperate climate. They will seat 26 passengers and accommodate one other 18 standing. Every bus provides 14 USB chargers to energy passengers’ gadgets.

Ridership on the brand new buses is method up, even over pre-pandemic ranges. September 2023 noticed 60 % extra riders than September 2019. Tennyson credit the ridership enhance to many elements, together with higher automobiles, a streamlined service plan that features sturdy public engagement, and higher instruments and data for riders, corresponding to publication of transit schedules to Google, higher maps, and real-time arrival screens at 13 stops throughout the campus.

TigerTransit buses have all the time been freed from cost for all passengers, and now the buses are broadcasting that message, with “Free Shuttle Service For All” emblazoned on each side.

The brand new EV buses accommodate wheelchair passengers with best-in-class onboard know-how, Tennyson stated, together with automated wheelchair positioning. As Eisgruber famous on the ceremony, “Accessibility, and offering a common expertise for all ages and skills to maneuver freely all through our campus, is an institutional precedence.”

Companions in a greener future

Eisgruber underscored the collaborative imaginative and prescient and energy that enabled the College’s electrical bus fleet and charging stations to turn out to be a actuality.This progress is the results of a outstanding collaboration between campus and regional companions, different universities, public transit companies and personal corporations,” he stated.

One key companion was the neighborhood of West Windsor, which was represented on the 755 Alexander St. occasion by Mayor Hemant Marathe. I could not be happier that it’s being positioned in West Windsor Township, and I could not be happier that Princeton College is rising their presence in our township,” stated Marathe.

One other key companion was PSE&G, which powers the 755 Alexander St. facility. There, the place Princeton’s fleet fees in a single day, PSE&G and the College have put in eight chargers that may concurrently cost 16 buses. 

“At PSE&G, we take pleasure in our collaboration with Princeton College’s TigerTransit,” stated John Latka, senior vp for electrical transmission and distribution at PSE&G. “We’re delighted to assist Princeton College as one of many pioneering Ivy League transit operators within the Northeast to personal and function a completely electrical bus fleet. This partnership underscores our shared dedication to a cleaner, electrified future for the state.”

A secondary charging station, positioned at Princeton’s Parking Lot 20, is powered by a mixture of on-site solar energy, PSE&G energy, and the Princeton College Vitality Plant. It has two chargers that may cost as much as 5 buses without delay.

The smaller station hasn’t been wanted for noon recharging but, however that will change because the temperatures drop and the electrical heaters start to attract on the batteries, stated Tennyson. “In gentle climate, the bus can run a full day on a single cost, however with winter approaching, we may even see top-offs changing into essential.”

Close to the secondary charging station, there’ll quickly be electrical car charging ports for private automobiles. As a part of the College’s dedication to electrification as a significant step towards a net-zero future, Princeton at the moment offers 85 free EV charging ports throughout the campus — 65 within the Stadium Storage and 10 every within the Theater Storage and the Prospect Avenue Storage. Tennyson says that 40 extra will go reside within the Meadows Storage in January 2024, adopted by 20 chargers in Lot 20 by the tip of 2023-2024 educational yr.

People in front of balloons and an electric bus

Many individuals concerned in bringing the EV buses to Princeton got here to have fun on the charging facility’s grand opening. From left: Richie Tisone, Stout’s Transportation; Jenna Glass, the Service Level; Louis Finish, WeDriveU; Michael Randolph, Princeton Transportation & Parking Companies (TPS); Charlie Tennyson, TPS; Amanda Stevens, TPS; Steve Stewart, WeDriveU; Debby Foster, Princeton’s deputy vp for College Companies; Praveen Rajasekaran, TPS; Lorenzo Geroso, WeDriveU; and Kevin Guilbault, TPS.



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