Electric shuttle to replace class bus

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

By the end of this semester, Berry plans to replace the current class bus. The new vehicle is an 11-person, open-air electric shuttle complete with roll-down sides to protect against rain, a radio, a fan and a heater. It will plug in to be charged every night and has solar panels to maintain the battery during the day. Berry installed a charging station for the shuttle behind Krannert. 

According to Cecily Crow, director of student activities, the idea to replace the class bus with an electric option was suggested several years ago when a class of environmental science students was tasked with finding more sustainable options for various things at Berry. Dean of Students Debbie Heida was intrigued by the idea when it was presented, but Crow said that it took several years for the idea to come to fruition. 

“We were finally able to pursue that option last year,” Crow said. 

The majority of the funding for the new vehicle came from fees that outside groups pay for the use of Ford Dining Hall. Some funding also came from Berry’s new crowdfunding portal. 

The new shuttle is ADA (American Disability Association) compliant and has a wheelchair ramp. According to Crow, it was important to the school to be able to provide transportation to students with accessibility issues. The Student Activities Office and the class bus team are currently deciding whether the shuttle will drive the same route as the class bus, or whether the routes will be adjusted slightly. 

According to senior Chris Lilly, the student supervisor of the class bus drivers, all student workers who currently drive the bus will be trained to drive and maintain the new vehicle. They will learn safety procedures, as well as how to identify when the shuttle needs to be charged. 

Lilly is excited about the new shuttle and what it means for Berry’s campus. 

“I feel like this is a big step at Berry,” Lilly said. “This will be the first all-electric vehicle that’s under Berry equipment.” 

According to Crow, the shuttle should be up and running before the end of this semester. Her office is working with SGA to plan a launch party for the new vehicle. 

Once the new shuttle is in use, the current class bus will be transferred to the Mountain Campus route to replace the old Mountain Campus bus, which had to be retired about two years ago.

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