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We can’t hide the fact that setting up a pilot project with electric buses is no easy task. In fact, tackling this project head-on requires a person who is determined to change the school transportation industry. Over the last 50 years, this industry hasn’t evolved much in terms of technology. But today, the solution that everyone was waiting for is here: 100 percent electric school buses that emit zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
That’s why we are proud to highlight David Meeuswen, executive director of the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) and transportation director for Zeeland Public Schools, located 25 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
Not only did his vision and commitment lead to the successful implementation of electric school buses in Michigan, but he also made possible emission-free distribution of food to the community during those uncertain times. On Mondays and Thursdays, Zeeland Public Schools is putting to work its four new LionC electric buses to deliver 8,000 meals/week throughout the district. This wouldn’t have been possible without Meeuswen’s dedication.
It all started when Meeuswen saw his first 100 percent electric school bus at the National Pupil Association Transportation (NAPT) event in October 2017. His first contact with the LionC was, as he described it, “like a little electrifying lightning bolt.” It was just the spark he needed to bring this innovative transportation to Michigan.
“We are excited to be one of the first districts in the state of Michigan to use Lion’s ZEV for our students,” he stated. “Zeeland is ensuring that our transportation fleet is as green as possible mirroring standards set in our new school buildings to be the best for our students and community.”
In 2018, Lion brought an electric school bus to Michigan so that Meeuswen could introduce it to all the people responsible for school transportation in Zeeland Public Schools and, most importantly, demonstrate the vehicle’s advantages in person.
Needless to say, everyone was pleasantly surprised by the ease of use, the low maintenance requirements and just how quiet the bus is on the road. Soon enough, everyone was determined to acquire LionC buses. The only small hiccup was the purchase price.
Meeuswen assembled a team and initiated a strategy to get funding that would make it easier to purchase the vehicles. From the start, the team at Lion was there to answer any questions, whether it was about the vehicles, the charging infrastructures or the delivery process. After a few months, they had a solid pilot project in hand that was presentation-ready and worthy of subsidies.
Through the Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement, Michigan had received $64.8 million to improve its air quality. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), which manages the funds, allocated $12,961,400 to replace old diesel school buses.
Sensing an opportunity, Meeuswen and his team brought together additional school districts to create an even larger pilot project. Given the strength of their case, they earned the first funding in Michigan for the Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement. Thanks to their efforts, five school districts will reap the benefits of 11 Lion school buses that are 100 percent electric.
“The objective of this program is to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality inside school buses, where the buses idle, and along roadways where the buses travel,” explained Meeuswen. “This program specifically focuses on children who are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of diesel emissions and who live in regions designated as air quality priority areas.”
At the start of December 2019, the 11 LionC school buses were delivered to five school districts. They all received their training beforehand, to ensure they could operate their LionC vehicles as soon as they were delivered.
“Welcome to the 21st century in pupil transportation.”
-David Meeuswen, Transportation Director, Zeeland Public Schools (Mich.)
“This pilot project will have the chance to demonstrate all the positive outcomes that ZEV have to offer our communities, like cleaner air, S.T.E.M. classrooms, V2B, V2G, less maintenance cost, and a quieter atmosphere on the bus,” Meeuswen said.
David Meeuswen is a good example of what happens when you are determined to achieve what seems like an unattainable goal. We at Lion Electric are very proud of his accomplishments.
Naturally, the Lion team is always there to support these kinds of initiatives and help build strategic plans that lead to the acquisition of 100 percent electric school buses. In fact, we have a team of grant specialists on hand and ready to help you receive maximum funding for the acquisition of your vehicles and infrastructure.
Making the transition to electric vehicles is the right thing to do. And choosing a manufacturer who is fully dedicated to manufacturing 100 percent electric heavy-duty vehicles ensures you’re getting exceptional expertise that will help you benefit from the right products, infrastructure and advantages.
By offering a turnkey service that spans from plans on paper to buses on the road, Lion Electric Co. always puts the customer first.
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Lion Electric — The bright move.