Having An Electric School Bus Fleet Is Easier Than Many People Think
published on January 04, 2022 by Sonia Mastros
If your district is thinking about adding electric vehicles (EVs) to your school bus fleet, don't let outdated fears hold you back! Electric buses have come a long way in the last decade, from being impractical to being entirely capable of serving a school district's needs.
As such, a lot of 'common knowledge' about electric buses is simply out of date. So, we wanted to take a minute to acknowledge how far electric buses have come and how easy it's become to add EVs to your school bus fleet.
Four Ways Electric Buses Have Improved In Recent Years
1. Electric Buses Aren't Harmed by Cold Weather
For a long time, a major limiting factor in EVs was the problem of temperature: cold weather tended to harm the batteries and reduce their capacity.
However, this limitation has been overcome. Today's electric buses can come with dedicated heating systems that prevent the battery from ever getting too cold, no matter the outdoor climate. Districts are even beginning to deploy electric buses in Alaska!
2. Range Isn't a Problem Anymore
Another traditional worry about EVs is the range afforded by their battery. A decade ago, EV batteries struggled to power a school bus long enough to be useful. Today, that's not an issue. Batteries are getting bigger and more powerful every year, with current electric buses capable of going more than 150 miles on a single charge.
That's more than sufficient for all but the absolute biggest and most distributed rural districts in the country.
3. Electric Buses Require Very Little Special Training
If you get a new type of bus, that means you have to retrain all your drivers, right? Nope! Electric buses drive almost exactly like regular gas-powered vehicles. A driver should be able to hop in one and fully adjust with a single test drive.
In many ways, they drive better than gas engines. In particular, they run almost silently, allowing the driver to more easily hear things happening around them.
Now, it is true that maintenance and repairs will require some retraining, but there's good news here too. Electric buses are much more mechanically simple than traditional buses. Once your maintenance crew learns the new design, they'll be able to repair and maintain them much more quickly (and cheaply) than maintaining gas engines.
4. Charging Electric Buses Is Simple
Once upon a time, charging EVs was difficult and time-consuming, but not anymore. Today, most EV dealers will provide a charging station along with the purchase. Once the charging station is installed, you literally just plug in the bus with an oversized plug.
From there, onboard computers monitor the battery's charge and automatically stop charging when it's full.
So, what other outdated stories have you heard about electric school buses? Share your experiences in the comments!