One of them is not like the other. The latest yellow addition to the Oak Harbor Public Schools bus fleet may look like the rest of them, but it’s definitely different. How different? It’s 100 percent electric!
Over the years, the district’s efforts in purchasing environmentally-friendly buses have been well-documented. An effort that started in 2010, the district now has 14 propane buses to go along with its first full-electric school bus. The remaining 39 buses are either diesel or gas.
Known for their high price tags, new electric buses are nearly $390,000. Thanks to the incredible work of Transportation Director Francis Bagarella securing an EPA Washington grant for $302,695, much of the expense was offset. The district was responsible for the difference and for installing an Electric Vehicle Charging station. The new charging station can charge two buses at the same time, which complements the district’s effort in moving forward with the movement for years to come.
Grants became available after the Volkswagen lawsuit settlement that earmarked $12 million in Washington state only to replace diesel school buses with electric buses. The department of Ecology has awarded 40 grants in 22 school districts throughout the state. Oak Harbor Public Schools was the lone district in Island County to receive one.
In addition to the eco-friendly buses, electric and propane-fueled vehicles also offer significant district savings. Diesel-fueled buses have an expense of $2.33 per gallon, with propane buses averaging just over $1 per gallon and offering a savings of nearly $75k annually. While district savings with the electric bus will be told over time, Bagarella is excited about its possibility.
“The propane buses have an incredible performance with low maintenance and the costs speak for themselves, Bagarella said. “The electric bus should offer even more savings to the district and as the technology evolves, the price for the buses should decrease as well, which will allow us to purchase more of them in the future.”
Odds are you won’t recognize the new bus around town making student pick-ups and drop-offs, but you also won’t hear it either. That signature smell or rumbling sound is a thing of the past with these quiet and smooth buses. With an average of 134 miles on a full charge, the electric bus, for the time being, is not equipped for the long, athletic, or field trip runs. But as more charging stations become available in various districts, we should see more electric buses on the road. The new electric bus replaced a diesel-fueled vehicle from 1998.
It’s just another example of Oak Harbor leading the way!
By The Numbers
Electric Buses in Washington State
County School District Buses Clark Vancouver 3 Ferry Republic 1 Grays Harbor Elma 1 Grays Harbor Lake Quinault 1 Island Oak Harbor 1 King Highline 1 King Kent 1 King Northshore 1 King Renton 2 King Shoreline 2 King Snoqualmie Valley 1 Kitsap Central Kitsap 1 Mason Mary M Knight 1 Pierce Franklin Pierce 1 Pierce University Place 1 San Juan Lopez Island 1 San Juan Orcas Island 1 Snohomish Lakewood 1 Snohomish Snohomish 1 Thurston North Thurston 3 Thurston Olympia 3 Whitman Pullman 1 Total 40