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UCLA adds 2 zero-emissions shuttles to its fleet to service medical patients, staff

UCLA Transportation commissioned two zero-emissions shuttles in accordance with the university’s goal of a more sustainable campus. (Justin Jung/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Elizabeth Sherwood

Oct. 13, 2020 10:19 p.m.

UCLA Transportation commissioned two new zero-emissions shuttles to run through Westwood and help the university make strides toward its sustainability goals.

The two new shuttles will run a 30-minute loop between the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica to transport both staff and patients, according to a Sept. 11 UCLA press release.

This initiative contributes to UCLA’s efforts to create a carbon neutral fleet by 2025, said Renée Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events & Transportation in an emailed statement. The shuttles are the newest part of a growing fleet of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles students and faculty use for campus operations, Fortier said.

The university now requires all new vehicles it uses to be either battery electric or plug-in hybrid, Fortier said. She added that this would save nearly 5,000 gallons of fuel and 42.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Around 35% of UCLA’s vehicles are no-emission vehicles, Fortier said.

Nurit Katz, UCLA’s chief sustainability officer and executive officer of UCLA Facilities Management, said in an emailed statement that these shuttles and the goals they represent will have lasting effects on campus life.

“The long term effects of choosing electric vehicles instead of gas powered vehicles include decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air,” Katz said. “When implemented at scale, initiatives like this can be part of tackling climate change, and part of making our city livable, healthier, and more sustainable.”

Fortier added that the addition of these sustainable vehicles will reduce the overall size of the university’s fleet of vehicles by allowing gas-powered vehicles to be reallocated and repurposed. UCLA Transportation is also improving its vehicle technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, she said.

Katz said the significant internal improvements made by UCLA Transportation aim to contribute to a more sustainable future for Los Angeles in line with the goals of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge. The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge aims to transition LA County to 100% renewable energy sources by the year 2050.

Casandra Rauser, executive director of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, said in an emailed statement that this effort follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order that calls for all new vehicles sold in California to be zero-emissions by the year 2035.

“Replacing fossil fuel-powered vehicles with ones powered with electricity – ideally from clean sources like solar – help get us closer to our goal by reducing harmful air pollution and carbon emissions that are responsible for the climate crisis,” Rauser said.

Grayson Peters, a member of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council transportation committee, said the addition of the zero-emissions shuttles is a sign that UCLA is taking significant steps toward sustainable transportation and that the new vehicles will help reduce air pollution and protect the health of passengers and Westwood residents.

But while the shuttles are a step forward, much more effort is needed to ensure that Westwood remains a healthy place to live for years to come, Peters added in an emailed statement.

Peters said he thinks UCLA needs to go further to encourage the use of more sustainable transportation to make a lasting impact on Westwood’s carbon footprint.

“This will require strong infrastructural connections between public transportation … and the rest of Westwood, protected bicycle lanes for bikes and scooters, and a reevaluation of parking policies that unduly subsidize car usage,” Peters said.

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Elizabeth Sherwood | Assistant News editor
Sherwood is the 2020-2021 Assistant News Editor for the City & Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for National News and Higher Education. She is a second year political science and communications student and digital humanities minor at UCLA.
Sherwood is the 2020-2021 Assistant News Editor for the City & Crime beat. She was previously a contributor for National News and Higher Education. She is a second year political science and communications student and digital humanities minor at UCLA.
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