Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    South Burlington Explores the Feasibility of Electric School Buses

    South Burlington School District in Vermont has taken a step towards clean energy by introducing electric school buses into their fleet. One of the drivers, Rob Robenstein, believes that this is a positive move, stating that the electric buses are quiet and emission-free. As of September, there are now 18 electric buses in use across four school districts and four public transit systems in Vermont.

    A pilot project conducted by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) monitored eight electric school and transit buses in Vermont for a year. The study aimed to determine the feasibility of introducing electric buses into the state’s transportation systems. The pilot program report concluded that operating electric buses in cold weather and varied terrain is feasible.

    The report also highlighted the benefits of electric buses, including fuel savings, reduced maintenance costs, and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. On average, electricity costs saved 26 cents per mile compared to diesel fuel costs. Maintenance costs were also lower, with one electric bus estimated to have saved $5,500 in maintenance costs over a diesel model.

    However, the report also highlighted some challenges that electric buses face. One of the main concerns is battery efficiency in cold weather. While the buses were able to complete their daily routes, the battery range was affected by the cold temperatures. The report recommended careful consideration of charger selection, placement, operation, and maintenance to ensure efficient charging.

    Another challenge mentioned in the report was timely resolution to maintenance issues. Out of the eight buses monitored, seven experienced service needs, and it was difficult to get timely resolution to these issues.

    Despite the challenges, the report concluded that electric buses are a viable option for school and transit buses in Vermont. The upfront costs of electric buses are higher than diesel models, but financial assistance through public dollars or grants can help offset these costs. Additional charging stations and infrastructure upgrades may also be necessary for widespread deployment of electric buses.

    Overall, the introduction of electric buses in South Burlington has been seen as a positive step towards reducing emissions and transitioning to clean energy transportation. Drivers like Robenstein enjoy the experience of driving electric buses and believe that it is a wave of the future for school transportation.

    – Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) pilot program report