Princeton’s first all-electric bus arrives on campus – many more will be there, soon

Program, which calls for 17 buses, aims to be fully implemented by start of next academic year

Princeton University’s first all-electric bus made its first trip on campus last month – the first step of many that the school hopes to take in an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2046.

The bus, part of the school’s Tiger Transit service, is one of 17 scheduled to arrive at the school by the end of February.

The first bus will be used primarily for training. It will then be moved into limited service, rotating through most routes by late November. The remainder of the fleet will be delivered and introduced into service between December and April of 2023, with the last remaining diesel vehicles scheduled to be removed before the start of the next academic year.

When all of the buses are put into service, Princeton will be the first among the first transit operators throughout the northeast to operate a fully electric bus fleet, according to Charlie Tennyson, director of the school’s transportation and parking services.

“I am so excited about Princeton’s transition to electric vehicles because of the positive impacts it will have for both our university and local communities,” Tennyson said.

“I am really proud of Princeton for choosing to make this investment, which is a very smart and sustainable long-term investment when compared to the cost and emissions of operating diesel vehicles.”

The decision to convert the entire TigerTransit fleet from diesel to electric supports the school’s sustainability action plan. The deployment will eliminate roughly 500 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and improve air quality by reducing the small particulate matter that may cause asthma and other respiratory problems.

The new buses also run more quietly, Tennyson said. They can run for about 200 miles on a single charge, which exceeds the daily mileage required for the longest running buses in the TigerTransit system.

The Xcelsior battery electric buses are manufactured by New Flyer. They can seat 26 passengers and include 14 USB chargers for riders’ devices. They also are fully accessible with state-of-the-art features for riders who use wheelchairs or need similar accommodations, and feature audio-announced stop information

Shana Weber, director of Princeton’s office of sustainability, said the time to act on climate change is now.

“Taking steps now to demonstrate scalable fossil-free systems is the journey we’re on as a society, and it’s exciting to see Princeton squarely in that space,” she said. “While the entire life cycle of products, including buses, is not yet fossil-free, transitioning to electric vehicles while regional electric grids decarbonize is part of that journey and builds momentum, supports better local air quality, new industries, helps to educate and informs policy.”