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NC and Caldwell County Schools Welcome First Electric Activity School Bus

Caldwell County Schools proudly unveiled North Carolina’s inaugural electric activity school bus today, adding to the school district’s white bus fleet a cutting-edge, 72-passenger electric bus made possible through grant funding awarded by the Department of Environmental Quality.

“In pursuit of grant funds, we were grateful to acquire both an electric school bus and a charging station,” said Jay McCarraher, Transportation Director. The white activity bus is appealing for its versatility across the district, serving field trips, sports events, and activities in every school and potentially benefiting every bus rider.”

With approximately 99 yellow school buses (used for designated routes in transporting students to and from school each day) and 28 white activity buses facilitating transportation needs districtwide, Caldwell County Schools recognized the potential of an electric bus in reducing emissions and enhancing student experiences.

Two years ago, the district applied to the School Bus Program under the Department of Environmental Quality, leveraging funds from the NC Volkswagen Settlement Mitigation Program, totaling $54.4 million for diesel emissions reduction initiatives.

The transition from diesel to electric presents noticeable advantages, particularly in noise pollution. McCarraher noted the absence of any discernible noise during the operation, fostering a quieter ride. “After a tour and short ride on the bus, community leaders and principals were impressed with how they could communicate more effectively during the riding experience,” McCarraher added.

Test rides conducted by McCarraher and his team revealed impressive performance results. The electric school bus reached a range of approximately 120 miles before indicators signaled a recharging.

McCarraher indicated that further calculated planning would ensure that battery depletion is never a concern during trips based on designated mileage established prior to departure. “This bus is also designed to use public charging stations that are available to consumers,” McCarraher said, “even though the school district secured grant funding for an electric charging station that has been installed at the Transportation Department.”

The bus is available for immediate deployment to schools.

The electric activity bus will undergo the same rigorous safety standards synonymous with yellow buses. Jeff Moore, Customer Service Representative of White IC & Collins Bus, emphasized electric school buses' longevity and safety benefits. “With proper maintenance and charging practices, the school bus battery can endure 12 to 15 years, offering students one of the safest and healthiest transportation options on the road,” Moore said.