Torrance Unified School District will soon deploy a set of electric buses along side two other California schools tapped to participate in a pilot program to demonstrate the effectiveness of zero-emissions buses in student transportation.
While the plan has been in place since 2014, Mark Plumb, TUSD transportation manager, announced that the first electric bus was “about to hit the road” during a Tuesday session of the 2016 ACT Expo held at Long Beach Convention Center.
Plumb spoke as part of a panel discussion, ‘Fleet Experience with Electric Vehicles,’ which detailed the use of alternative fuel vehicles in both the public and private sectors.
TUSD was selected by the Clinton Global Initiative to exhibit the impact electric school buses have on reducing costs and environmental footprint based on such things as routes and terrain.
Plumb, who has been with the Torrance school district since 2006, reported that the switch to electric school buses, while small, has been expensive since the “technology developed along the way.”
But when confronted by a $900 annual fueling bill to charge electric buses as opposed to a $9,000 annual bill for traditional fuels, Plumb knew the decision was a step in the right direction.
The transportation manager also highlighted that when electric buses are plugged in, they provide power back into the power grid to help reduce costs and consumption.
“We’re looking forward to getting these buses on the road,” said Plumb. “As things are rolling on, we’re excited to be part of this demonstration.”
Robert Filosa, department manager of the West Region Automotive Center for UPS, explained that when a private business or public operation considers the adoption of electric vehicles, “a whole lot of planning and looking at a lot of data must occur before the vehicles get on the road just to know where you stand.”
Furthermore, Filosa stressed just how critical it is to properly train the people who will maintain and operate zero-emissions vehicles to optimize them to their full potential. “It’s a big piece of the puzzle,” Filosa said.
Most concern about the switchover that hinders a full conversion centers on “range anxiety,” which David Meisel, PG&E senior director of transportation services and aviation services, described as the concern over the operational limitations of electric vehicles.
Yet, Meisel underlined that the benefits of the adoption of electric vehicles vastly outweigh the apprehensions over the breadth of usage.