EV School Bus Firms Are Electrifying US School Transportation

An electrified school bus fleet means less air pollution, and better student health and performance.
Chris Young

School bus provider Thomas Built Buses (TBB), a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks, is one of several firms adding to the growing fleets of electric school buses in the US, a post by InsideEVs explains. The company recently celebrated its 50th electric school bus delivery to Loudon Country Public Schools in Virginia.

With schools aiming to electrify their student transport amid President Joe Biden's new infrastructure proposal, TBB said it has orders for hundreds more of its electric buses.

Thomas Built Buses is delivering EV buses throughout the US and it said that earlier this year it received the nation's largest electric school bus order when Maryland ordered 326 units.

TBB and Proterra unveiled its high-performance Jouley electric school bus in 2018. The buses are powered by EV firm Proterra's technology. They have the option for 226 kWh packs with a range of up to 135 miles (217 km). The buses can charge in 2-3 hours at a DC charging station.

The times they are a-changin'

One of the proposals in President Biden's new infrastructure plan is to switch at least one-fifth of school buses in the US from diesel to electric, in a bid to improve general health, fight climate change, and even improve student performance — a 2019 study by Georgia University researchers showed a correlation between lower school bus emissions and higher student test scores.

An NCBI report states that a child riding inside a diesel school bus may be exposed to as high as four times the level of diesel exhaust fumes as someone riding in a car near the bus — a fact that heightens their likelihood of developing cancer later in life.

As a Vox report states, the technology to power electric buses wasn't quite there until recently. However, the technology now has huge potential as the large vehicles have ample space for massive batteries.

One recent example comes from TBB partner Proterra, who set a world record in 2017 by driving an electric school bus 1,102 miles (1,173 km) on a single charge.

As school buses carry nearly 26 million children in the US, or about 55 percent of the student population every day, President Biden's plans to electrify US school buses stand to improve the health of students as well as the public at large.

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