Last month, the University of Connecticut decided to turn over on-campus bus operations to state and regional transportation officials in order to save money and include a couple of electric buses to on-campus routes, according to University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
The plan partners UConn with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Windham Regional Transit District (WRTD). Transferring bus operations allows the university to save money on operation and repair costs, Reitz said in a UConn Today article.
According to the Board of Trustees’ meeting notes from Oct. 28, this partnership benefits both UConn and DOT as it helps further the DOT’s goal to transition the state’s transportation completely to electric.
For UConn, the DOT will help maximize the state grant given by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in 2018. The grant, worth $1.3 million, was given in order to purchase two electric buses and a charging infrastructure, according to Reitz.
“It was then that UConn learned that only DOT possessed the technical expertise and proficiencies needed to maximize benefits of that grant award,” Reitz said.
According to Reitz, the DOT will be responsible for maintaining and replacing UConn’s 19 full size passenger buses.
“The DOT will subsequently be responsible for maintaining and replacing those buses,” Reitz said. “The DOT plans to gradually replace the remaining low-sulfur diesel buses of UConn’s former fleet with fully electric transit buses, a project that otherwise would have cost UConn more than $3 million annually over the next several years.”
The transfer will also call for the DOT to provide two electric buses for WRTD’s use within the UConn service area, Reitz added. DOT will also help UConn install charging stations at both UConn and WRTD’s maintenance facility.
According to Dwight Atherton, associate director of parking services at UConn, conversations about this agreement began last year.
“Although the University has a long history of working collaboratively with CT DOT and WRTD, the meetings series that ultimately resulted in the current agreement started in June 2019,” Atherton said in an email.
Reitz said that students will have normal access to all campus and regional bus routes without interruption or additional cost.
Atherton also noted that these changes will most likely not be of major concern to students.
“Despite the agreement’s breadth and complexity, the HuskyGo merger with the WRTD is likely to go unnoticed by many students. HuskyGo shuttles will continue to circulate our Storrs campus for the remainder of this academic year without change or interruption to service,” Atherton said. “Of course, service changes to accommodate physical distancing and on-campus construction projects will continue.”