June 2, 2008

High-tech buses of the future wheel onto campus

Sacramento State and the Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) District are working together to promote the future of mass transit in the region. The two organizations will host a seminar on modern bus and mass transit technology 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 3 in the University Union Ballroom.

University President Alexander Gonzalez will give the welcoming remarks. Mike Wiley, RT general manager and CEO, and Steve Cohn, vice mayor of Sacramento, will give the opening remarks.

The seminar will explore modern bus technologies and look at the role they may play in Sacramento’s future.

“One of the key features of the seminar will be 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, is the symposium’s keynote speaker. APTA is a Washington-based trade association that supports public transportation systems. Other speakers include 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. Shafizadeh will moderate the seminar.

The event will feature a display of buses being produced today. They include 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 to explore new transit technologies, and this seminar represents an opportunity to help foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the University and Regional Transit,” Shafizadeh says.

The seminar is a component of the RT’s transit master plan update. The plan will be used to develop and deliver transportation services to the region through 2035. The plan was last updated in 1993.

The seminar is free and open to the public but space is limited. For more information on the seminar, contact Smith at (916) 556-0506. For media assistance, contact the RT public information office at (916) 556-0112, or Sacramento State’s Public Affairs Office at (916) 278-6156.