Martinsville Independent School District in Texas is taking the electric leap by converting all four route buses to electric, making it the first school district in the state to do so.
In a press release announcing the news, it states that the district located east of Nacogdoches, Texas, replaced five diesel school buses with Blue Bird Vision electric buses and installed five Nuvve Level 2 chargers. Martinsville ISD Principal Keith Kimbrough told School Transportation News that the district has four electric buses that run daily routes, on average 50 miles per day. The district will, however, maintain three to four diesel buses to run sporting events and field trips that are outside of the electric bus range, which according to the press release is up to 120 miles on a single charge in ideal operating conditions.
The transition was made possible through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean School Bus Program. Kimbrough noted that the grant paid for 100 percent of the buses, chargers and infrastructure. He added that the buses have been on the road for about three weeks and the district is estimating a $50,000 a year cost-savings. Electricity costs the district 75 percent less than the previous bill for diesel.
“[This allows] us to put more money into education programs for our students, which is crucial in a small district,” Kimbrough shared.
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He added that like with any new program, there are kinks to be worked out. “Luckily we’ve partnered with Nuvve, (school bus dealer) Rush Truck Centers, Blue Bird and Cummins, which have worked diligently with me to make this a smooth transition,” he said. “Filing for the grant which was probably one of the most efficient grant processes I’ve been a part of. Then it was working with vendors and contractors to design the system and get the best prices on what we needed.”
He said Blue Bird provided training to transportation staff and local emergency teams on electric bus and charging station safety. Kimbrough added that once drivers got behind the wheel of the new vehicles, they became more comfortable with operating them and are now competing to see who can get the most out of the vehicle range by driving more efficiently.
He advised all districts to look at their routes. “I believe every district runs routes where ESBs can be very effective and a great cost savings to the district,” he concluded.