Here are some fun facts about electric school buses, four of which just hit the roads in Bay Shore thanks in part to an almost $700,000 federal grant.
• The buses that just arrived in Bay Shore, made by Blue Bird, are powered entirely by electric (not hybrid) and result in zero emissions.
• They are able to travel up to 120 miles on a single charge.
• Industry analysts say the school bus industry will be fully electric, as far as new production goes, as early as 2030.
• Blue Bird, for one, began developing electric buses in the 1990s.
• Operations and maintenance costs for a Blue Bird-brand electric bus amount to $.09 per mile. Compare that with Diesel-powered buses that cost between $.36 and $.42 per mile, according to the company.
• Electric buses currently cost over twice as much as a Diesel bus, which costs about $100,000, according Suffolk Transportation Service of Bay Shore, which operates the buses for the school district.
• However, electric bus prices are expected to drop with continued innovation and business competition, industry experts agree. (As of now, even with reduced fuel and maintenance costs, it’s still more expensive to own operate an electric bus when compared to Diesel)
• California school districts have deployed over 60 electric buses this year alone.
• According to the EPA, over 67,000 Diesel engines have been either replaced or retrofitted with electric power through its grant programs, resulting in reduced harmful emissions and massive public health benefits, to the tune of an estimated $19 billion in savings and 2,300 fewer premature deaths.
The electric Blue Bird buses’ arrival was celebrated Tuesday at the Suffolk Transportation Service campus, also in Bay Shore.
“Ultimately, [electric] is going to be a less expensive alternative to Diesel, once we have scale, and mass production and competition” said the president of Suffolk Transportation Service, John Corrado.
To prepare for that, Corrado and his team have been working to upgrade their infrastructure in preparation for larger and larger electric bus fleets.
Between the four buses and the infrastructure upgrades, it cost about $1.5 million to get the vehicles on the road this semester. Suffolk Transportation footed the entire bill beyond the near $700,00 EPA grant, with no costs to the school district.
The company and district did team up on the joint grant application.
“It’s important for us as a school district to model good citizenship for our students,” Bay Shore Schools Superintendent Joseph Bond said on Tuesday. “An part of being a good citizen means being a good steward of our environment.”
If you’re out looking for the buses, the electric ones look exactly like the Diesel ones, other than what’s under the hood.
And the Blue Bird logo is green. There’s also other green trim.
Top (middle): EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan lines up with school officials, government leaders and business representatives to board a Blue Bird electric bus in Bay Shore Tuesday. (Michael White)