The University Record, January 29, 2001

New University buses benefit commuters and environment

By Diane Brown
Facilities and Operations

The new buses in the U-M fleet ‘kneel’ and have entry ramps and lower floors so that passengers using wheelchairs or crutches can more easily board. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services
Have you noticed a big block maize “M” driving down the street lately? Six new commuter buses, decked out in maize and blue, have recently been added to U-M’s Parking and Transportation Services bus fleet. The vehicles have many features that make commuter travel more convenient. They also pollute less.

“We’re very pleased with the enhancements the new buses will provide our commuters,” says Pat Cunningham, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “Not only will people in wheelchairs have easier access on and off the buses, but we’ll be treating our environment better due to the significant improvements in the emissions levels.”

The Gillig Corp. buses have lower floors and entry ramps that speed up loading and unloading. Additionally, they “kneel” at bus stops to allow easier access for commuters using wheelchairs or crutches.

Warm-weather commuters will enjoy the addition of air conditioning. The cooling systems will be aided by slightly tinted, energy-efficient windows.

From an emissions perspective, the Cummins engines will produce 97 percent less hydrocarbons, 87 percent less particulate matter and 28 percent less nitrous oxides than the 1988 buses in the fleet.

“We know our commuter transportation services help our environment simply by carrying more than four million passengers a year,” Cunningham said. “But to be able to reduce our emissions to 5 percent of current levels is a strong statement for our commitment to sustainability.”

The last buses to join the U-M fleet were 1993 Flxible models. Currently, the fleet has 39 buses, though one or two of the 1988 buses soon will retire from the road and be recycled for parts.

Bus schedules are available on the Parking and Transportation Services Web site at Questions can be sent via e-mail to