In Maryland, the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education has signed a contract to convert its entire school bus fleet to all-eclectic. With over 1,400 school busses, it’s one of the largest bus fleets in the United States, and it will start with 326 electric buses in the next four years.
Thomas Built Buses will build the electric buses, known as Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouleys. The buses use an electric powertrain made by Proterra and a 226kWh battery that should provide a range of 135 miles while 81 passengers are aboard. While 135 miles might not seem like much, buses often don’t need to travel far as they primarily ferry local children to and from school and spend most of the day charging.
“I figured that at some point electric bus prices would fall enough to make it affordable, but this deal makes it affordable now,” said Todd Watkins, Transportation Director for MCPS. While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, MCPS is getting an $$817,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Association to offset costs. When the buses aren’t in use, they’ll be used as vehicle-to-grid energy storage to further offset the project costs.
According to Thomas Built Buses, “…reduce carbon emissions by 25,000 tons per year while cutting diesel pollution harmful to human health, contributing to both Maryland…” The contract calls for Highland Electric Transportation to electrify all five of MCPS’ bus depots, supply the electric school buses and charging infrastructure, and supply additional services, including managed charging.
Buses with traditional internal combustion engines are loud, big polluters, and inefficient. In theory, electric buses should solve many problems, but it’ll be years before we know well the project fared. Between that, and the United States Post Office moving towards electric mail trucks, the future looks bright for electric vehicles.