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Benefits Of Electric School Bus Fleets Explored In Fairfield

Benefits Of Electric School Bus Fleets Explored In Fairfield

February 21, 2020

By Chris Gilson, CCM communications writer

As more and more cities adopt fuel efficient vehicles for their fleets, they have been finding that the drawbacks of this emerging technology is almost non-existent. Even police have found uses for electric vehicles like the Tesla, which offers superior power to even some fueled vehicles. With the successes of these fleet cars, the question is what is the next step? At the Fairfield Green Wheels Expo, the future might be school buses.

Held by the Sustainable Fairfield Task Force (SFTF), the Green Wheels Expo brought in an electric school bus from the City of White Plains, NY, built by the Lion Electric Company and operated by National Express Transit according to the press release.

Why change the technology for school buses? Unlike electric school buses, there are many drawbacks to diesel school buses. One obvious to any person who has driven behind a school bus is that diesel buses exhaust is toxic stuff. A powerpoint held on the SFTF website says that there are over 40 known cancer-causing organic substances in diesel exhaust and the chemicals include Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, Acrolein, 1,3-butadiene.

This does not produce an environment conducive to a child’s health as they are exposed to these noxious gases in the vehicle whether or not the windows are open. Compare this to the fact that electric vehicles do not produce gases of this nature.

Limited tank back to top

One often cited drawback to electric vehicles is that they are limited by their “tank,” which is an array of batteries. But towns that have begun implementing electric bus fleets, whether for school districts or for general transit have not found that problem.

In fact, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Enivornment America Research and Policy Center, and Frontier Group released a joint report on towns and cities across the country that say almost the exact opposite.

“In 2014, Seneca, SC became the first city in the world to launch an all-electric bus fleet. The buses have outperformed heir diesel equivalents in fuel maintenance costs and exceeded expectations regarding charging time, range, and battery life.”

“In 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources tested electric school buses in three school districts across the state. The vehicles produced significantly fewer harmful emissions than diesel school buses, had no difficulties with range, and cold weather did not affect their performance. Fuel cost savings were smaller than expected, however, mainly due to unmanaged charging of batteries and high electricity demand charges. All three school districts chose to keep their buses after the pilot.”

It’s pretty clear that there are advantages to electric school buses, and towns that can look into them should look at the financial benefits, but also the health and environmental benefits.