June 10, 2008

High-tech buses of the future wheel onto campus

Photo:High-tech bus

Sacramento State and the Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) District hosted a seminar on modern bus and mass transit technology on campus Tuesday, June 3.

The seminar explored modern bus technologies and looked at the role they may play in Sacramento’s future.

“One of the key features of the seminar was an examination of new fuels and propulsion systems that will help improve air quality by reducing emissions and greenhouse gases,” says Don Smith, RT senior planner.

Manufacturers here and abroad are building and testing buses that run on alternative fuel sources such as biofuels, electricity, fuel cells, hydrogen, or diesel hybrid systems says Smith. “Those are all emerging technologies, and someday they may become as commonplace as our natural gas buses are today. Remember, just a few years ago, natural gas technology was considered an emerging technology.”

Sacramento State has been a proponent of mass transit for years as a way of increasing accessibility to the campus. The University has partnered with RT on several projects including a proposed tram system for the campus community.

“It is important for Sacramento State for work with RT on transportation issues because the University is a major trip destination within the region,” says Kevan Shafizadeh, a Sacramento State professor who specializes in transportation engineering. “It would have a regional benefit if we could encourage the entire campus community to consider using transit and alternative forms of transportation to reduce both congestion and vehicle emissions.”

Bill Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, was the symposium’s keynote speaker. APTA is a Washington-based trade association that supports public transportation systems. Other speakers included

transit experts from Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio, Washington D.C. and San Francisco; as well as fuels, technology and transportation experts from UC Davis; UC Berkeley; Caltrans and the city of Oakland. The event featured a display of buses being produced today. They included streamlined buses used in Oregon and Los Angeles and alternative fuel vehicles including the next generation of natural gas and hybrid buses.

“Sacramento State is the perfect venue for this meeting of industry leaders, academics, public officials, and the general public, and this seminar represents an opportunity to help foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the University and Regional Transit,” Shafizadeh says.

For more information on the collaboration between RT and Sacramento State, contact the RT public information office at (916) 556-0112, or Sacramento State’s Public Affairs Office at (916) 278-6156.