The First Electric School Buses Are Now Rolling in Oregon, Washington and Michigan

Electric school buses make their debut in three more states this week, after the first one hit the road in California in 2014

A total of nine new electric school buses are in service this week, transporting meals and children in Oregon, Washington and Michigan.

A school district in California was the first to purchase an electric school bus in 2014. Dozens more were purchased by other California school districts in 2020, and two more by a Virginia school district last month, but those buses don’t seem to be in use be in use yet because of the pandemic.

The Beaverton School District unveiled the Oregon’s first two electric school buses yesterday.

The buses will be put to immediate use delivering meals to students who qualify for free or reduced lunches, and will start shuttling students once the district returns to limited in-person instruction on February 22nd.

Two school districts in Michigan received a total of six electric buses earlier this week to be used for the same purposes.

And one electric school bus is already transporting dozens of lucky children in Washington State. The elementary school started offering rides on the new “e-bus” on January 22.

“Our kids are able to ride with cleaner air, a much quieter atmosphere, and a much less stressful atmosphere,” said Craig Beaver, Transportation Administrator for the Beaverton School District in Oregon.

Although the buses cost about twice as much up front, the district expects to save $200,000 per bus in fuel costs over the course of the bus’s “life.”

“We can get up hills much better,” said Joe Vlach, director of safety and operations at Central Kitsap School District in Washington.

“They are definitely quieter, so it also helps with student management. The driver can actually hear conversations.”

“We do one charge overnight, and it fully charges it for when the bus goes out in the morning,” added Kyle Johnson, district director of logistics and operations.

For every diesel bus replaced by an electric bus carbon emissions will be reduced by about 50,000 pounds per year.

Diesal buses are some of the worst polluting vehicles, known for their thick clouds of black exhaust that can be smelled from hundreds of yards away.

But because there weren’t any alternatives for transporting dozens of kids safely to school, they avoided air quality regulations for decades.

Because their daily routes are less than 100 miles, they are the perfect vehicles for charging over night, unlike semi-trucks, which need to drive for much longer stretches between charges.