Anteater Express began as a transit experiment during the Spring Quarter of 1987 at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), when a pilot program with service to Balboa Island was implemented. Operating one 15 passenger van, nearly 6,000 passenger trips were provided during the 11-week trial. The service was branded as the ASUCI Express Shuttle and began regular funded operations during the Fall Quarter of 1987.
The first routes targeted off-campus UCI populations, focusing on reducing the number of cars on campus. Areas were targeted based on two criteria: they attracted UCI affiliates and had little or no connectivity to the UCI campus.
When the Arroyo Vista Housing community was completed, the ASUCI Express shuttle was contracted by the UCI Transportation and Distribution Services department to provide shuttle service to the campus periphery, creating the Main Campus Route in 1995. In addition, ASUCI acquired numerous Bluebird activity buses to efficiently transport the growing number of passengers. By 1999, Arroyo Vista Housing had reached a critical mass of residents who, despite being grateful for Main Campus Route bus service, desired direct routing to the campus core, resulting in the addition of more routing.
In the early 2000s, the university contracted American Campus Communities (ACC) to develop student housing in the East Campus area. This led to an increased need for reliable transportation to the campus. As each ACC community opened (Vista del Campo in 2004, Vista del Campo Norte in 2006, Camino del Sol and Puerta del Sol in 2010, and Plaza Verde in 2019), bus service was added to accommodate the increased student resident population. In 2010, the ASUCI Express Shuttle acquired 25 transit style buses (El Dorado EZ Riders) from OCTA to replace most of its aging fleet and rebranded as Anteater Express.
UCI is the first college campus in the nation to transition to a fully electric bus fleet. The student-funded and student-operated Anteater Express campus shuttle service acquired 20 electric buses that replaced the previous biodiesel fleet. Anteater Express received our first battery electric bus, January of 2018 with the entire fleet delivered by the end of the academic year. As of May 2022, our fleet of battery electric buses have logged over eight hundred thousand miles! We are anticipating the arrival of five additional electric buses which will be placed in service fall quarter 2023.
Anteater Express, transporting over 2 million passengers per year, serves as the primary source of transportation for many students living in nearby housing communities. The buses are charged using UCI’s state-of-the-art microgrid, which consists of an internal utility tunnel loop connected to the local utility via an on-campus substation. The internal utility loop spans around the campus and connects the community of over 30,000 people to various distributed energy resources, including charging stations for each of the new Anteater Express buses. UCI also welcomed a zero-emission, electric hydrogen fuel cell bus to its fleet in 2015. The hydrogen bus fuels at the UCI Hydrogen Fueling Station, the first station of its kind in California and the most used public hydrogen fuel cell vehicle refueling station globally.