What’s the Fairest Way to Deploy Electric Buses? Ask This Open-Source Map

While the deployment of electric buses can help mitigate the air quality impacts of public transportation, transit authorities often face budgeting constraints that center cost reduction rather than equity—until now.

1 minute read

August 17, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By rkaufman


Singapore Electric Bus

Singapore Buses / Flickr

From neighborhoods sliced through by highway construction to the most affordable neighborhoods often being located in industrial areas thanks to decades of segregation, marginalized groups across income, race, and employment suffer more from air pollution than white and wealthy populations.

While the deployment of electric buses can help mitigate the air quality impacts of public transportation, transit authorities often face budgeting constraints that center cost reduction rather than equity — until now.

University of Utah researcher and associate professor Xiaoyue Cathy Liu, in cooperation with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), recently developed an open source, web-based modeling tool that lets urban, city, and transportation planners and more across the country explore various scenarios for deploying electric buses. The tool models the trade-offs that cities can expect when making decisions around introducing electric buses into a municipality’s fleet or increasing their use—everything from how many buses and chargers to buy to what routes to run them on and tradeoffs between cost, air quality, equity, among other parameters.

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