HomePartner UpdatesQ&A with Kevin Matthews, Head of Electrification at First Student

Q&A with Kevin Matthews, Head of Electrification at First Student

Kevin provided answers about the vision for electrification at First Student and what he would tell district leaders who weren’t sure where to start when it comes to electrifying their fleets.

Q: What is your vision for electrification at First Student?

Kevin: The vision is really around recognizing our ultimate goal of transporting children in a zero-emission environment. And so how do we get there in a way that’s cost-effective, but also demonstrates our support to the communities in which we operate our school buses?

And so that vision is going to entail working with a wide variety of stakeholders from our school district customers to the states we work in, to the utilities that we’re going to be working with, to those who do charging, and our school bus manufacturers to really create a holistic approach to reaching this goal.

Q: What would you tell districts that want to start electrifying their fleet but don’t know where to start?

Kevin: You need to do your research. This is not simply about receiving a grant to purchase a school bus. There is so much more to it than that. So, you really have to look at the resources that are available online around the country that you can access that begin to give you that education that’s out there.

You also need to really sit down first and foremost and have that conversation with your utility. Utilities is going to have some really good advice about what it’s going to mean to bring the amount of electricity you need to your location in order to even charge one bus, let alone ten, let alone 100.

And so, understanding their programs, their limitations, it’s very critical from there. But you have to really step back and look at the overall dynamics of the entire student transportation business you’re in.

Because it’s not just about having an electric school bus, looking at routes, looking at the usage pattern, how long your bus is home during the middle of the day that they can get an opportunity charge. What size charging infrastructure do you need? What size battery on the bus do you need?

You know, there are a lot of elements that need to be examined even before you apply for that first grant.

For more information or to find out how First Student can help you through the electrification process, please email us at electrification@firststudentinc.com.

Kevin Matthews was appointed as the head of school bus fleet electrification in February 2022. In this new position, Kevin is responsible for the vision and strategy that will drive the development and deployment of all electrification initiatives and technologies at First Student. Kevin has worked in the environmental sector for more than 30 years. He has served as the managing director of the sustainability sector at National Strategies, LLC, as well as served as the co-project director of the Clinton Global Initiative’s EV School Bus project, which set out to retrofit school buses to zero-emission. Kevin worked at AIG Environmental and took on several different roles in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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