HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- In less than a month, classes at Alabama A&M University will resume, and this fall, students will get to climb aboard some brand new electric buses.
On Tuesday, Washington D.C. lawmakers announced some big funding that will help pay for the new rigs.
“This is the future. It’s like the future is here. And we feel like we’re part of the pioneers,” Alabama A&M transportation director Marshall Chimwedzi said.
Chimwedzi has spent the spring and summer writing several grant proposals as the college is switching to electric buses.
“They always say, you can write 99 and maybe you’ll get one,” Chimwedzi said.
The university has already been awarded nearly $5 million, which will pay for the first two buses arriving in September.
“It’s not like you go and buy one from the lot. They’re custom-designed,” Chimwedzi said.
Another pleasant surprise happened Tuesday when Senator Richard Shelby tweeted that A&M is getting another $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We believe him, I think he knows the inside scoop,” Chimwedzi said.
Chimwedzi says they’ve finished designing the new solar charging station for the new buses, which will be built on the east end of campus. They hope to have that finished by Christmas.
“Right now, our budget to fit 10 buses and about eight charging stations is about $2 million,” Chimwedzi said.
The 40-foot buses can fit up to 75 people. Chimwedzi says they’ll receive another two buses in early 2020 and have six on campus by next summer.
Chimwedzi says the school eventually plans to have eight electric buses running on campus.
He says the quiet running buses will also come equipped with noises, such as beeps or chirps to alert students when they’re nearby.