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An electric school bus charges at the Twin Rivers Unified School District yard near Sacramento, California. The operation has the most experience in North America with obtaining grants for the vehicles, operating them, and realizing cost savings.


Maintenance costs are also 60-percent less, as he noted that there are only 26 moving parts in an electric bus motor. Other costs decrease as well, such as brake pads. “With our Lions, we’ve been running on the same


brake pads since we got them almost four years ago, and they’re at 50 percent [wear],” he shared. “The tires still have 50 percent of their tread, which is practically unheard of.” He attributes the lesser amount of wear and tear to


the regenerative braking system, and the fact that the powertrain and batteries are located in the center of the bus, which he said more evenly distributes the weight of the vehicle. It was actually the use of separate school bus technol- ogy that Shannon credited with hastening the adoption of electric. “We were at a Tyler [Technologies] office up near Canada, receiving an award because we saved three-quarters of a million [dollars] using their software, and Marc André [Pagé] from Lion invited us up for a day,” Shannon shared. “I gave him some proposals, detailing the need for support on the educational piece of transi- tioning to electric, and they decided to build their first Experience Center in Sacramento, 10 minutes from our yard. Lion and Blue Bird have both given us a lot of training, and I also really appreciate the support techni- cians from Motiv Power Systems, who has been working hands-on with us as well.” Shannon also credited Ron Hill, the director of trans-


portation for nearby Sacramento City Unified School District, with helping to get a local grant for electric off the ground to assist more districts. “Overall, the industry


28 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2020


is moving rapidly and is showing great improvement. In fact, we just purchased a Type C Lion Electric bus and are expecting to get great results from that bus,” Hill said. “Originally, we had range issues with those first buses because Sacramento is so congested, but my drivers and aides really appreciate the quieter electric bus with our special needs students.” Twin Rivers’ routes generally average 35 miles, so range distance has never been an issue, said Shannon. “At an STN [EXPO] dinner,” Shannon recalled, “one of the Blue Bird reps said that they did a study, which deter- mined 85 percent of bus routes in the nation could run on a 100-mile battery.” Meanwhile, training plays a big role in the success of


electric bus deployment, said Jim Castelaz, founder and CTO of Motiv Power Systems, which manufacturers elec- tric drivetrains for Type A school buses. “From reminding drivers to plug the bus in, to having support engineers step in if diagnostic issues arise, we want people to have a positive experience with electric buses. Getting them really comfortable with hands-on training is key,” he explained. “We don’t want these pilot programs to fail because, ultimately, these electric buses are freeing us from using fossil fuels. Opting for an electric bus isn’t just buying a new bus, it’s making an energy decision.” Getting more bang for the buck is the ultimate goal in


British Columbia, where 13 school boards are benefitting from guidance provided by IC Bus, as they implement electric school buses into their fleets next year. Last month, IC Bus received its first order of 18 CE electric models fund- ed via the annual British Columbia Provincial School Bus


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