For students waiting at the University of Georgia bus stops, the engine whir of the white buses is a clue to look up from their phones and board the bus. But on Thursday, Sept. 21, and Friday, Sept. 22, some students waiting for the Milledge Avenue and Orbit buses didn't have this hint.

UGA Transportation and Parking Services tested Proterra electric buses as part of their grant to build a 19-bus fleet of electric buses.

“It’s amazing,” UGA Director of Transportation and Parking Services Don Walter said. “It’s so quiet and fast. The ride is incredibly smooth.”

Proterra is one of the several electric bus companies currently being looked at by UGA for the switch, Walter said, and these companies are going through a competitive process.

Proterra had their demonstration on the Milledge Avenue route on Thursday and Orbit on Friday.

Walter said the bus ran for seven hours and lost a third of its charge and could last for 15 hours. Normally a typical bus will run 10 to 12 hours in a day at UGA.

He said the battery life depends on regenerative braking power, meaning that the less a driver brakes, the more the bus charges.

Braking less is the only change for drivers from the usual diesel buses, and Walters said student drivers drove during the Proterra demonstrations.

As for further demonstrations and finalizing a bus company, Walters said it depends on which companies respond to the request for proposal.

Writer: Erin Schilling