Panther Express is going electric

Photo by Trent Legaspi | The Signal

Georgia State announced in late June that the university would receive federal funding to purchase new fully electric buses. The university released that it would receive $22.29 million to acquire 18 new electric buses and the necessary charging equipment for the Atlanta campus.

Georgia State is one of the 130 grant recipients in the $1.7 billion endeavor to increase low-emission buses across the country. The funding, heading to 46 states and territories, comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law.

The projected installment of these new buses is set for 2025. The switch to electric buses would make Georgia State one of the first universities in the Southeast to operate a fully electric bus system. Currently, the Panther Express only operates on the Atlanta campus. 

Replacing the previous diesel-run Panther Express buses opens Georgia State to many opportunities to lower its carbon impact as an institution. Georgia State University President Brian Blake hopes to jumpstart sustainability efforts in Atlanta. 

“By having this new fleet of electric buses, we’re helping the city of Atlanta as we move forward and progress,” President Blake says to 11alive News. “It is another way we are prioritizing sustainability here at Georgia State as well as continuing a sense of placemaking for our community.”

The new electric transit system is replacing 18 diesel-run buses, projected to reduce the usage of 600 gallons of diesel gas a day. 

Georgia State has stated that the new electric transit system will not affect the bus schedule and will continue to run from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. during the week. Many are concerned that the need to charge the buses will cause more delays in the schedules. 

Many students commented on Georgia State’s Instagram post expressing their concerns about missing the bus due to charging times. Students also used the opportunity to address other concerns.
Questions about accessibility, run times and reliability flood the post’s comment section. One user asks, “Will they be functional for students who need the ramp?” The Georgia State Instagram did not reply.

The main concern amongst commenters, however, is the lack of funding in other areas.

Under the post, a user commented, “The university should’ve secured a grant for more housing options instead of this, your students have nowhere to live.” Many students in the comments agree. Multiple other comments expressed concern about campus safety, especially following the string of safety concerns in April. 

On the other hand, numerous comments stated their support for the change. Several comments call it a “great step in the right direction.” The comment section is in agreement that the new electric buses are a good change for the environment. 

The Panther Express runs throughout the Atlanta campus with four routes, the blue, green, orange and purple routes. In April earlier this year, the university extended the bus route times, ending the usual bus routes at midnight instead of 10:00 p.m. Additionally, the buses run on late-night routes that begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 2:30 a.m. The late-night route has seven stops. It stops at the University Library, University Lofts, 75 Piedmont, Piedmont North, College of Law, T Deck and Center Parc Stadium Green Lot.