UJ launches two electric buses to cut its emissions

An electric bus owned by UJ

Photo by UJ

15th February 2023

By: News24Wire


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The University of Johannesburg (UJ) this week rolled out two electric buses, which have already started transporting students across its campuses.

The buses are part of the university's plans to reduce its carbon emissions. The project started more than 18 months ago, explained Special Projects Advisor Professor André Nel.

"We've always had a strong focus on sustainability issues. After implementing large numbers of solar panels, one of the next questions was how can we further make UJ sustainable? After some research, the obvious answer was how we were going to cut our carbon emissions in one area, and that area was transport," Nel said. Transport accounts for 4.5% of UJ's carbon footprint, Nel added.

Solar accounts for 15% of the university's energy needs, and this is enough to power the buses, said Dr Mpoti Ralephata, UJ's chief operations officer. It takes at least five and a half hours to fully charge the buses from a plug point either on campus or at the bus depot.

The buses can then cover up to 350km after fully charging. This is more than enough power required for the bus route, which is less than 200km.

Load shedding in the evenings may impact charging, noted Ralephata. "We will have to have load shedding for more than five hours a night to affect overnight charging," Ralephata said.

Members of the university's executive leadership, including vice-chancellor and principal designate professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, got to test out the buses. Mpedi said the buses are an example of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in action. "They are part of a legacy that we want to leave for future generations. As a testament to our position as a leader, we are the first university to make use of EV buses for commercial purposes," he said.

"We firmly believe that sustainable development is a long-term commitment. We aim to contribute to sustainability by reducing our environmental footprint while enhancing our contributions to the social and economic development of South Africa," he added.

The buses – which have an average 15-year lifespan, will also save on fuel costs. They also require less maintenance than the diesel fleet. Unlike diesel buses, electric buses are almost silent when operating. Each bus can carry 76 passengers – 57 seated and 19 standing.

The university said that drivers would also have to be retrained to operate the electric fleet, given their high-tech nature.

Edited by News24Wire




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