It’s big, yellow, has four wheels and is now electric. Randolph County Schools just announced their first electric school bus.
Bus 2021 in Randolph County is the first electric bus that has been delivered to a North Carolina school district. Regional Sales Manager for Thomas Built Buses, Roy Parks said this is a groundbreaking moment.
“This project has been a little over two years in the making . There was a grant available through the VW Grant and then of course DPI wanted to implement a pilot program and this is one of the five pilots for an electric school bus,” Parks said.
With this new bus Randolph County schools will be able to reduce their carbon footprint.
“Electric is very clean and fuel efficient overall. It's going to reduce the total cost of ownership and the efficiency of the fuel. If you look at the bus it doesn't look any different but once you get on the bus there is no noise pollution, the driver's environment is wonderful,” Parks said.
According to Parks, since the bus is electric there is little maintenance the bus will have to go through.
“You don't have the normal maintenance you’d have on a bus now such as oil changes, filter changes, things of that nature,” Parks said.
Now that the bus is electric, school officials will be able to track the buses location, providing a safer environment.
“Overall, it's going to continue to provide safe transportation, it’s extremely clean and it’s going to reduce the cost of operating over the life of the bus,” Parks said.
After a full day of picking and dropping off students, it won’t take long for the bus to regain its power.
“It all depends on when it comes back and how much is still in the batteries. If it's completely depleted, which would be very rare after a run, it would take two to three hours. That's something we work with the county who we sell it to, to do a route analysis to make sure where they’re operating it, it operates on that particular route,” Parks said.
Even though the bus is electric, it doesn't exactly operate like a Tesla.
“One thing about this is it is very responsive, the drivers get in it and they say how responsive it is. It does drive a little differently but most people love how responsive it is. The big difference is how quiet it is on the inside. But there are a few different shifters and some switches on the dash are a little different but it looks like a normal school bus,” Parks said.
Within the next year the electric school bus will be making its way to Guilford County Schools.
“Guilford County is in on another round of funding that is actually happening right now. They are scheduled to get their order soon. You’re going to see them popping up everywhere and it’s going to be more and more common,” Parks said.
The bus is scheduled to make its first route in the upcoming weeks.