Green Views

Sharing views on sustainable practices, including alternative-powered vehicles, eco-friendly facilities and energy-efficient technologies.

Back to the list

September 5, 2013

Green fleet helps UC Davis adhere to strict standards

by Richard Battersby - Also by this author

The University of California, Davis is one of the greenest schools in the nation. In addition to being named the No. 1 Coolest School by the Sierra Club in 2012, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called UC Davis the “Environmental Capital of the World” in a speech at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in 2010.

With this reputation, it's no wonder the university’s transportation system, ASUCD Unitrans, has been on the path to be a sustainable fleet since 1995, the year a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station was installed at the maintenance facility located on campus.

After the development of the station, Unitrans began building its green fleet with the purchase of its first CNG-powered Orion buses. Though this campus unit is almost entirely run by students, including drivers, dispatchers and shop assistants, who were not necessarily familiar with CNG or the related equipment at the time, implementation went smoothly.

Today, Unitrans' environmentally-friendly buses provide public, fixed-route transportation for the university and the entire city of Davis, carrying more than 20,000 passengers on a typical day. Unitrans’ entire fleet is made up of 43 CNG buses, as well as two Alexander Dennis double-decks that run on biodiesel and two vintage-style London double-decks converted to run on modern Cummins ISB engines. Included in the CNG fleet is one successfully retrofitted 1950s-era London double-deck running on a John Deere CNG engine, with another is in the works.

The unit’s support vehicles also adhere to UC Davis' strict green standards, with two CNG Honda Civic sedans, several CNG paratransit vehicles and a recently added Toyota RAV4 EV. And to encourage and nurture green transportation beyond the Unitrans fleet, the unit fuels other campus vehicles at its CNG station, including the campus refuse trucks.

With the majority of employees being part-time student workers, including more than 250 total students employees, the task of maintaining and operating a CNG fleet might seem daunting, especially when most people rely so heavily on petroleum-fueled vehicles in their day-to-day lives.

In actuality, the Unitrans staff has made this look easy by employing knowledgeable career staff who educate the students appropriately throughout their time with the unit. Many students eventually hold positions of increased responsibility within the organization, such as supervisor, driver trainer, shop assistant, and even operations and human resources manager. This work experience, coupled with their excellent educational experience at UC Davis, leaves much of the graduating student staff ready to enter and be successful in the workforce, regardless of their field of study.

In partnership with the City of Davis and UC Davis, Unitrans hopes to continue to be a leader in environmental and sustainable projects, decreasing the size of its carbon footprint and setting an example for many other fleets. Many believe that if public transportation can pave the way for automotive sustainability, more sectors will follow.

Thanks to Andrew Wyly and Anthony Palmere of Unitrans for their valuable contributions to this post.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "What the 'Google Bus' has taught us."

Richard Battersby

Director, Fleet Services at UC Davis

Write a letter to the editor digg it stumble upon newsvine

    There are no comments.


Receive the latest Metro E-Newsletters in your inbox!

Join the Metro E-Newsletters and receive the latest news in your e-mail inbox once a week. SIGN UP NOW!

View the latest eNews
Express Tuesday | Express Thursday | University Transit

Author Bio

Alleyn Harned

Executive Director, Virginia Clean Cities

Alleyn Harned is executive director of Virginia Clean Cities (VCC), a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program. Harned leads VCC’s collaborative effort to assist stakeholders and the Commonwealth in programs to improve air quality and increase energy security and economic opportunity through the use of alternative fuels and vehicles.

Gary Thomas

President/Executive Director, DART

Gary Thomas is the president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, covering a 700-square-mile service area with bus, light rail, commuter rail and paratransit services.

Taylor York

Staff Analyst, Western Riverside Council of Governments

Taylor has worked with the Western Riverside County Clean Cities Coalition since 2011. He also provides staff support for solid waste, energy and transportation programs at the Western Riverside Council of Governments. He holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from Cal Poly Pomona.

Dave Walsh

Project Manager, Sellen Sustainability

Registered Architect and a Project Manager Walsh, works with agencies, design and construction teams to implement measurable sustainability in transit projects.

Jennifer Turchin

Project Manager, Sellen Sustainability

Turchin is a licensed architect with expertise in all phases of architectural services.

Pamela Burns

Communications Supervisor, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Communications Supervisor, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Matt Stephens-Rich

Clean Cities Ohio

A graduate student at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, Matt Stephens-Rich is interning at Clean Fuels Ohio as part of the Clean Cities Workforce Development Program.

Richard Battersby

Director, Fleet Services at UC Davis

Richard Battersby is the director, fleet services, at University of California, Davis. He also serves as coordinator of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition.

Steve Linnell

Director, Transportation / Energy Planning, Greater Portland Council of Governments

Steve Linnell is Director of Transportation and Energy Planning at the Greater Portland Council of Governments and Coordinator of Maine Clean Communities.

Yliana Flores

Alamo Area Clean Cities Coordinator

Yliana Flores is the Alamo Area Clean Cities coordinator for the Alamo Area Council of Governments Natural Resources Department, where she has worked on transportation issues since 2010.

Colleen Crowninshield

Manager, Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition

Colleen Crowninshield has worked for the Pima Association of Governments since 1994, where she has served as coordinator for the Tucson Clean Cities Coalition since 2002.

White Papers

Factors in Transit Bus Ramp Slope and Wheelchair-Seated Passenger Safety Nearly 3 million U.S. adults are wheelchair or scooter users1, and as the population ages this number is expected to rise. Many wheelchair users rely upon public transportation to access work, medical care, school and social activities.

Mass Transit Capital Planning An overview of the world-class best practices for assessing, prioritizing, and funding capital projects to optimize resources and align with the organization’s most critical immediate and long-term goals.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Service in ADA Complementary Paratransit Many U.S. transit agencies continue to struggle with the quality of ADA service, the costs, and the difficulties encountered in contracting the service, which is the method of choice for a significant majority of agencies. One of the most basic policy decisions an agency must make involves whether to provide door-to-door, or only curb-to-curb service.

More white papers


The full contents of Metro Magazine on your computer! The digital edition is an exact replica of the print magazine with enhanced search, multimedia and hyperlink features. View the current issue