EBus Update and Background

The Electric Bus, also known as the EBUS, was delivered to Missouri S&T after the Missouri Transportation Institute on campus was awarded a grant to respond to the Federal Transit Authority’s strategic research goals to protect the environment and promote energy independence.  The grant project “Alternative Sources of Energy to Power Transit Vehicles” started in 2008 and was to include three tasks:

 

  • City of Kansas City PEV Demonstration project
  • Expansion of Missouri S&T’s “Show Me the Road to Hydrogen” project
  • Missouri S&T’s EBus Campus Shuttle Service

 

Task 3 required S&T to run an electric bus, but also required that the electricity generated to charge and operate the bus was to be produced by environmentally-friendly technologies. In this way, the bus was protecting the environment and promoting energy  independence.

 

With the support of the same grant, we installed a 1.2 kilowatt wind turbine and Photovoltaic panels of 3.2 kilowatts both feeding two charging stations and located across from the Miner Village. Due to bus production delays experienced with different companies, EBUS, a company from Downey, California delivered an all-electric bus to Missouri S&T in December 2013, five years after the grant period began.

 

The Ebus was placed under the management of OSE3 (which began the Center for Sustainability in 2016.) Angela Rolufs, the Center’s Director, was instrumental in getting the original project started with Kansas City and was formerly the Director of the Missouri Transportation Institute .

 

Since 2014, OSE3 and the subsequent Center for Sustainability  provided the EBUS as a free shuttle to students on a daily basis during both Fall and Spring semesters. In addition to daily campus shuttle services, it also provided evening services twice a week for shopping and could be used for other special events on campus when available.

 

While finding continued funding for the Ebus has been an issue, the greatest issue with the bus has resulted from the fact that it was a first-generation research vehicle. Issues of reliability and technical problems have been a concern for an extended period of time, but were made worse by a major mechanical issue that occurred at the beginning of the Spring 2017 semester. The Ebus has become increasingly unreliable and also financially unsustainable as we try to address the many technical and mechanical issues of an aging bus as the technology continues to evolve. This lack of reliability and mounting costs was becoming a disservice to students who could no count on the shuttle service. 

 

After many meetings that weighed various options, the Center for Sustainability decided that it was time to retire the bus as a daily shuttle service to students. We do, however, recognize that the bus has been providing a much-needed service to many of our students, faculty, and staff. 

 

While it is with regret that we retire the Ebus, we are encouraged to see that a Transportation Committee has been created to study an overall transportation plan for Missouri S&T and the City of Rolla. We know that the plan is only in a study phase, but we are happy to see strong participation in the survey. We encourage all of you who support an overall transportation plan to go to the following link and complete the survey so your voice is heard  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/msttransitstudy

It has been a pleasure for our office to provide transportation to students while protecting the environment and promoting energy independence. We hope that we will be able to continue to partner with others in the future to advance sustainability and support the University Community to meet various needs.