Boulder Valley School District Adds Electric Bus to Fleet

March 24, 2021

Boulder Valley School District Adds an Electric Bus to Its Fleet

Boul­der Val­ley School Dis­trict (BVSD) has recent­ly added its first elec­tric school bus to its fleet. We spoke with Lan­don Hillard, Safe Routes to School Co-Coor­di­na­tor, and Kevin Cole, BVSD Fleet Man­ag­er, about this deci­sion and what this means for the future of the school district.

The deci­sion to add an elec­tric school bus has been in dis­cus­sion for sev­er­al years. Boul­der Val­ley School Dis­trict was award­ed the Alter­na­tive Fuels Col­orado grant in 2019 and used the funds to pur­chase a Blue Bird Vision Elec­tric Bus. How­ev­er, the orig­i­nal first-gen­er­a­tion bus had some draw­backs and the school dis­trict decid­ed to wait until a new­er Blue Bird bus was avail­able. Fast for­ward to 2021, and the cur­rent bus they have has a 100-mile range and spe­cial insu­la­tion that allows for out­door charging.

BVSD chose to go elec­tric because of the envi­ron­men­tal and finan­cial ben­e­fits. They are con­scious of the fact that trans­porta­tion is respon­si­ble for the largest share of Colorado’s green­house gas­es, and switch­ing to emis­sions-free trans­porta­tion is an envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly solu­tion.  The Blue Bird bus is 100% elec­tric and will bring clean­er air to school­child­ren, par­ents, staff, and the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty. BVSD also expects to save mon­ey in the long run — while the ini­tial cost of the elec­tric bus was high­er, long-term sav­ings are great­ly enhanced due to low­er main­te­nance and oper­at­ing costs and cheap­er elec­tric­i­ty as com­pared to gas prices. The reduced cost per mile of using an elec­tric school bus was a big fac­tor in BVSD's deci­sion and they will be keep­ing track of the bus’ costs and sav­ings over time to help guide their judge­ment on con­tin­u­ing to add elec­tric bus­es to their fleet.

At the time of our con­ver­sa­tion, the elec­tric school bus was planned to go on its first route on March 17, 2021. "The dri­vers and mechan­ics expressed excite­ment at hav­ing an elec­tric bus to dri­ve and work on in the fleet", Kevin said. The bus is super qui­et and while it doesn’t look any dif­fer­ent than a gas-pow­ered school bus, BVSD plans to wrap it with EV brand­ing to bring aware­ness to the emis­sions-free vehi­cle. The school dis­trict also plans to show­case the bus at var­i­ous schools and host edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions and focus groups with high school stu­dents in the com­ing months.

BVSD will con­tin­ue work­ing on ways to reduce vehi­cle emis­sions by the fleet and in the com­mu­ni­ty. This work is part of the Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Man­age­ment Sys­tem, BVSD’s plan to “demon­strate lead­er­ship in sus­tain­able trans­porta­tion by reduc­ing its col­lec­tive vehi­cle emis­sions, decreas­ing school zone traf­fic con­ges­tion, increas­ing fleet oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies, and choos­ing safe and healthy trans­porta­tion options to access schools and relat­ed activ­i­ties.” The trans­porta­tion empha­sis in this plan includes elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing infra­struc­ture which is acces­si­ble to both staff and the com­mu­ni­ty. Charg­ers, fund­ed by the Charge Ahead Col­orado grant, were installed 5 years ago across BVSD schools and are avail­able for pub­lic use. With approx­i­mate­ly 50+ sites and 108 charg­ing plugs across the dis­trict, these sta­tions incen­tivize work­place charg­ing and EV adop­tion for employ­ees, par­ents, and others.

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