COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Is the future electric....?
When we think of buses, we think of the screech of an exhausting brake as wheels roll up to a stop... well not anymore... At least not for a few new buses of the Aggie Spirit fleet.
Three new battery-operated electric buses began their rounds on the A&M campus this week.
There's a new smoothness to these bus rides ... one that's a little quieter too.
"Any time you get in a new vehicle and drive it, it's exciting and fun, especially never having driven an electric vehicle before," Austin Simmang, a Student Driver and Dispatcher for A&M Transportation Services said.
A driver for nearly 4 years, Austin Simmang switches these new ignitions on with pride.
".....with the way technology is going these days, it's definitely really cool to be one of the first people to drive a vehicle like this," Simmang added.
Not only do these Protera battery-operated electric buses provide a new experience for riders, but they also supply Transportation Services with new data, more so than their diesel buses.
"As far as driver efficiency and different things with battery usage... That's one thing we are looking like a pilot program, to compare these buses to the diesel buses," Justin Tippy, Transit Manager for Transportation Services said.
Tippy, hopes these additions are noticeable among the Aggie community, in more ways than just their new sleek look.
"I was driving on campus and I had 5 or 6 parents taking pictures of my bus," Simmang said.
"It's a whole different experience when you are in the bus and you don't hear the noise or the engine noise and to know you are a part of the first ones on campus," Tippy said.
Drivers say there are a few differences in the way these new rides drive.... especially with braking.
"Just the regenerative braking... Re-charging while it's rolling to a stop. It takes a little bit to get used to," Simmang said.
Bringing a cleaner and quieter riding experience to College Station for the near 50,000 passengers who ride them (during a normal semester) each day.
"There are no emissions going out whatsoever. We will learn more in the future just to see what it is and how efficient they are," Tippy added.
"Being the first and actually getting to operate these buses. It's an honor and really cool... To have that to be able to say I've operated these buses before," Simmang added. "It's a great resource to have, especially with the student population we have."
"We are excited to have them here and to learn about the technology," Tippy shared.
Leaders hope the data they can collect from these buses will help them prepare for the future.
These new buses were funded by a BUILD grant TAMU Transportation Services received in partnership with Brazos Transit in December of 2018.
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