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With maintenance and fuel savings, we should be able to recoup the cost over the lifetime of the [electric] bus, about 15


years. The downside is the range.” -Brad Redmond, West Fargo Public School District in North Dakota


“I haven’t run on the renewable yet. I’ve had some


people tell me that it’s better, while others say we’re going to hate it,” Betz admitted. “One grant specifies that I have to run renewable diesel for three years. The electric buses are much less maintenance because there are no particulate filters to deal with, but we can only use them on our shorter routes. Plus, [utility Pacific Gas & Electric] isn’t giving the electricity away. They also have a history of turning the power off due to concern over fires. Last year, the electricity was off for a week, just at the edge of our district.” Betz said he needs an electric school bus that can meet both the vehicle range and in-cabin heating


demands for his rural area. “It takes a lot of elec- tricity to generate heat, and that was a real problem for the driver and the kids, especially on those mornings when it was around zero [degrees],” Betz shared. “That [LionC] bus was from Canada, and the oil-fired heater that was on it wasn’t allowed in Cal- ifornia to still get the grant. I’ve doubled the heating in it, but that reduced the mileage.” A third electric, a Blue Bird, is on order. For that, Betz said he is installing solar infrastructure via another grant from the CEC. Panels installed on a carport will charge the buses parked beneath it, with any extra electricity redirected into the shop.


38 School Transportation News • JULY 2020


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