We will cover basically every electric school bus story that comes across our desk, because it is that important for schools — shuttling around many of our youngest, most vulnerable kids — switch over to clean electric transport as soon as possible. I cannot think of a single vehicle case that should be switching over to electricity quicker than school buses.
Dominion Energy has an “Electric School Bus Initiative” in Virginia that involves the eventual rollout of 50 electric school buses in just its first phase. This will reportedly be the “largest planned deployment of electric school buses in the United States,” and Dominion Energy has selected Thomas Built Buses to provide all 50 of those buses.
Thomas Built Buses, meanwhile, has partnered with Proterra to provide the electric powertrains for those buses. The all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus includes a 220 kWh battery that offers approximately 135 miles of range on a full charge, plenty for a few rounds up child pickups and deliveries. Further, “Thomas Built Buses is currently the only school bus manufacturer to offer DC fast charging architecture as standard equipment. Jouley can charge in about three hours and can supply power back to the power grid using vehicle to grid (V2G) technology,” Proterra writes.
“Thomas Built Buses and Proterra offer electrical infrastructure project management and a comprehensive turn-key solution for EV integration. Known as the Electric Bus Authority Program, Thomas Built Buses works one-on-one with customers through the entire EV planning and implementation process.”
Dominion Energy’s first Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus was recently delivered and a celebration held on October 27.
Beverly, Massachusetts, Gets Electric School Bus
The City of Beverly and Beverly Public Schools received its first electric school bus last month, and that was also a Thomas Built Buses Inc’s Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus using Proterra electric vehicle tech.
This is actually “the first Thomas Built all-electric school bus in New England.”
Beverly Public Schools isn’t just testing the waters with this electric school bus. The school district plans to fully switch to electric school buses for its 27 bus fleet.
“I’ve been in the pupil transportation business for many years and last week was one of the most exciting days in my career to see the first all-electric school bus drive into our bus depot,” Dana Cruikshank, Beverly Public Schools Director of Transportation, said. “We’re thrilled to have the electric school bus in our fleet and to start retiring the diesel buses.”
Incidentally (or not), Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill, who also serves as a Beverly School Committee member, “is a member of the Climate Mayors Steering Committee, a group of over 20 mayors who will serve as a leading voice in efforts to further climate action across the U.S. making up the Climate Mayors coalition.” He and colleagues in Beverly appear to be clear climate hawks — exactly the kind of leaders cities and counties around the country and the world should be electing.
Notably, these buses aren’t just better because they’re electric. They’re also better because they have better tech. They include interior cameras, rear back-up cameras, Wi-Fi, and high-quality ventilation systems.
As noted above, these are the same Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school buses used in Virginia, so they have all the same specs.
While it probably hasn’t crossed your mind yet, we — especially those in Beverly — can give Volkswagen Group a kind of thanks for this. Settlement funds from their diesel emissions scandal have contributed to this electric school bus transition in Beverly. Here’s more info on where some of the funding is coming from to switch to these electric buses:
“In January 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced the availability of five VW Settlement Trust-funded open grant programs aimed at reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gas (GHG) across Massachusetts, while supporting electrification of the state’s transportation network.
“Beverly issued a request for proposal (RFP) in summer 2019 to lease its first electric school bus and the winning bidder was Highland Electric Transportation of Hamilton, Massachusetts. In addition, in September 2020, Beverly issued a request for proposal for a second electric bus and again the bid was awarded to Highland Electric Transportation. The second electric school bus will arrive in early 2021.
“To assist with the electric school bus project, Highland Electric Transportation received a Volkswagen Open Solicitation Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and was also recently awarded grant funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Accelerating Clean Transportation Program to secure a second bus.”
As one more method of support, it’s worth noting that the utility servicing Beverly, National Grid, has installed thousands of electric vehicle charge ports around the US Northeast.
“Clean transportation is key to fighting climate change,” said Badar Khan, President of National Grid, US. “We are proud to have helped Beverly Public Schools offset the costs of this electric school bus by providing the infrastructure that connects the charger to the grid. All children deserve to breathe clean air and travel to school without compromising their health. We will work with Beverly Public Schools to replace more diesel school buses with clean electric buses. We want to help other school districts do the same.”