UCSC Switches Fleet Diesel Use to Biofuel

February 10, 2020

By Ellen Vaughan and Alessandra Álvares 


By switching to renewable diesel fuel, UC Santa Cruz has significantly reduced the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases emitted from its student shuttles and other fleet vehicles. 

The renewable biodiesel is generated from agricultural waste like corn stalks and grain chafts. “You can tell the difference in clarity,” fleet manager Theo Diamantopoulos said. “It burns cleaner and you can even smell the difference if you’re near a bus.” Without fossil fuel particulates running through the vehicles, biodiesel is able to cut down on operations and maintenance as well. Currently, Fleet is able to purchase biodiesel at a cheaper cost than traditional diesel, helping to make the decision to transfer a no-brainer. 

According to Diamantopoulos, campus vehicles used about 72,000 gallons of diesel in 2019. Biodiesel emits 50-90% less carbon than traditional diesel so this transfer will reduce UCSC’s annual fleet emissions by at least 25% annually. “Biodiesel” is a blend of biodiesel and diesel. A typical blend might be B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% diesel). UCSC has identified a high quality product “RD99” which is 99% biofuel! 

The move to biodiesel in February 2019 reflects a campuswide commitment to reducing UC Santa Cruz’s impact on the environment and carefully stewarding the world’s natural resources. The long-term goal is to move to an all-electric fleet of vehicles. UC’s current sustainable policy goal is, “50% of all new light-duty fleet vehicles purchased at each campus will be zero-emission or hybrid by 2025.” UCSC is confident it will meet this goal and already has many hybrids across its fleet.

More great news on Transportation
UCSC Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) has expanded serivices and added more benefits for those seeking to improve their commute to and from campus. Here are some of the updates we have to celebrate with TAPS:

Vanpool - TAPS introduces a NEW luxurious Hybrid SUV Vanpool, thanks to a Sustainability Office Carbon Fund grant combined with TAPS funds. This innovative pilot program will allow smaller groups of commuters to form a starter route. The first pilot group will be for commuters in Salinas and Northern Monterey County. If your schedule is 7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. and you want to cut your commuting time, stress, and gas expenses by up to 75%, contact TAPS Vanpool and we’ll change your commute for the better! Email vanpool-group@ucsc.edu or call the TDM Coordinator at (831) 459-4289 to sign up!

In addition, two of the UCSC vanpools now have bike racks that can hold up to three bikes, allowing people to maximize their commute. With the increase of bicycling students and employees riding to our vanpools, TAPS pursued a Sustainability Office Carbon Fund Micro Grant for this pilot project to determine if three-bike capacity racks are in the future for all UCSC vanpools!

On that note, did you ever think about joining the Vanpool?
Did you know that TAPS has a variety of Vanpools to help commuters save money as well as wear & tear on their cars? And even better, UCSC covers part of the Vanpool costs for you, leaving you with only a small monthly fee and a comfortable commute. What’s not to love?
Make sure to visit the vanpool page to obtain more information and sign-up for this great service!

On a continuous effort to promote the use of bicycle as transportation to campus, TAPS has expanded the bike shuttle service, by adding four more shuttle trip on the afternoons. Now bikers can also come up to campus at 12:30, 1:00, 2:00 and 2:30 pm, Monday thru Friday, adding a lot more convenience to those afternoon commuters. Check out the story here, and see more detailed shuttle service information.

New Ambassador
TAPS has a new member of its Transportation Demand Management Team. Jason Mead, Kresge Senior, will fill the new TDM Ambassador position created with the help of Sustainability Office Campus Sustainability Plan Fellowship funds. For 2 quarters, Jason will draw from his experiences as a car-free commuter and reach out to campus affiliates to spread the good word about UCSC’s sustainable transportation programs. If you are interested in having Jason at one of your department or organization events, contact TAPS at (831) 459-4289 or follow TAPS on social media to find out when and where Jason will be tabling each week! Ask him any questions you have about transportation systems available to you!

To learn more TAPS, visit their website.