Every day, tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and visitors make their way to, from, through and around the University.
UVA’s transportation infrastructure keeps the University humming. From bike paths to shuttles, UVA offers a holistic complement of resources to help people and materials safely get where they need to be. UVA’s Parking and Transportation department operates the University Transit System’s fleet of about 40 buses and maintains over 19,000 parking spaces. Additional fleets are operated by the University’s Facilities Management, Health System, Police and Athletics departments, among others.
While transportation infrastructure is a necessary component of modern life, it comes with financial and environmental costs. In Albemarle County, for example, transportation accounts for over half of all climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing this significance, the University is pursuing multiple initiatives to integrate sustainability into its transportation system.
Managing transportation requires strategies aimed at reducing the demand for single-occupancy vehicle trips and promoting sustainable, alternative transportation options, such as carpooling, transit, biking and walking. The goal is reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and promoting sustainability, while still providing people with convenient and accessible transportation options. UVA Parking & Transportation offers several services that support alternative transportation, including bus service, parking shuttles, carpool and vanpool coordination, and collaboration with regional transit providers, such as the Jaunt CONNECT shuttles and the Afton Express commuter bus.
In 2022, UVA announced that it had purchased four all-electric buses. These buses, custom-manufactured by Proterra, use electric motors and large batteries to completely eliminate all tailpipe emissions, providing a significant boon to local air quality. The use of electricity also significantly reduces the carbon footprint and maintenance costs associated with the bus fleet. Anticipated to enter service in 2023, this initial investment is intended to be the first step in fully electrifying the University’s bus fleet in pursuit of its carbon neutral and fossil fuel free goals.
In 2016, the University began electrifying its vehicle fleet when Facilities Management purchased its first 100% battery-electric vehicle. The fleet now includes 15 of these quieter, lower maintenance, emissions-free, all-electric vehicles. Where larger all-electric vehicles are unavailable, the University has continued to pursue hybrid electric and low-emissions alternatives, including plug-in hybrid vans and hybrid-electric box trucks.
As of 2022, UVA has fully or partially electrified 10% of its fleet of over 250 vehicles. Each of these vehicles represents a step towards achieving UVA’s carbon neutral and fossil fuel free goals while reducing local air pollution.
In addition, UVA has deployed a number of novel strategies to reduce the impact and enhance the efficiency of its vehicle fleet. In 2021, the Facilities Management fleet began a multi-year partnership with engineering professor Brian Park and his students to develop a first-of-its-kind Mindful Driving Program.
This initiative emphasizes driver training techniques such as idling reduction and gentle acceleration that improve safety and reduce air pollution – impacts that were validated by the research team. Better insight into vehicle usage and performance through a fleet-wide telemetrics roll-out further supports driver safety and sustainability through more efficient vehicle operation.
Said Professor Park in 2022: “The collaboration between the Engineering School and the Facilities Management has offered a unique opportunity for our students to tackle a real-world problem by applying systems engineering and big data analytics.”
We are proud to have received a number of designations and award for the combined efforts of multiple UVA partner entities as we continue to move the University toward achieving the goals in the UVA 2020-2030 Sustainability Plan.