Kings Canyon Unified School District located in California’s San Joaquin Valley received its first SST-e model last month, and expects three more soon. School officials estimate that each all-electric school bus will save more than $10,000 a year in fuel and maintenance costs.
Jason Flores, transportation director for KCUSD, told STN the bus has been in use for about two weeks, transporting regular-ed elementary and middle school students. He added that the SST-e was on its way today to the state capitol to be on display during the 2014 Governor’s Office Summit on Zero Emission Vehicles event scheduled for tomorrow.
The bus will return to the school district, but then go back on the road (the bus will be trailered) to be featured at the upcoming California Association of School Transportation Officials’ state conference in Monterey and an event by the California Association of School Business Officials, among other venues.
In the two weeks the school district has operated the SST-e, which runs roughly 80 miles, Flores said he has seen a daily fuel cost of between $10 and $16. That’s compared to about $24 he pays daily to fuel each of his compressed natural gas buses and between $52 to $56 a day to fuel each of his diesel-powered buses, with both alt-fuel type vehicles running an average of 80 miles.
He said the school district has taken major strides to reduce diesel particulate emissions by as much as 85 percent, and that going electric with these new school buses is another vital step in the school district’s measures to protect children, serve the community and be good stewards of the environment.
“We hope other school districts will follow our lead to protect children from diesel particulates as well as to protect themselves from rising diesel costs,” he added.
In January, the SST-e passed all school district and California Highway Patrol inspections and certifications, making it the first modern electric bus to be approved for student transportation by any state.
The first SST-e buses are partially funded by the AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program administered by the California Air Resources Board. Funding was provided through AQIP’s Advanced Technology Demonstration Project and the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). Voucher incentive funding is available through HVIP to any California school district for offsetting the cost of zero-emission buses. Similar programs are in place in New York City and Chicago.
First unveiled in October at the NAPT Trade Show in Grand Rapids, Mich., the SST-e utilizes a Ford E450 cutaway chassis equipped with an electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) by Foster City, Calif.-based Motiv Power Systems. It is available with 80 or 100 miles of range, holds 25 students, or 18 students with a wheelchair lift, and features configurable track seating for up to three wheelchairs.
Kings Canyon USD covers a 599-square-mile area. Its transportation fleet serves 20 school sites and travels more than 1 million miles annually.