Are Electric Schoolbuses a Good Idea?

The answer is yes — if you are paying attention. But, if you start reading stories about electrification of school buses it is a mixed bag.

Why? I hate to say it but government grants is the downside. Let me put that another way: moving from diesel to electric schoolbuses is a good thing if you do your homework. But, that is happening is bus manufacturers are “selling the idea” to school districts because they see they can sell more buses. In fact, many of those electric schoolbuses are just electric retrofits to diesel buses.

The reason it is a good idea is the cost of operation of electric buses is much lower than diesel ones. Lower fuel costs, much less maintenance and even an opportunity to make a profit off of using buses to sell electricity to the grid at high demand times and then recharge them when rates are low.

Your friendly electric bus salesman wants to sell buses. If you are the school district you need to do your homework. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Design your charging infrastructure so you can sell electricity to the grid.
  • Make sure the buses you buy have sufficient range.
  • Buy buses designed to be electric, from a company that knows how to make good electric buses, rather than retrofits.

The bus in the article image is made by BYD. While there are other companies making electric schoolbuses, BYD makes electric schoolbuses, transit buses and cars. They may not be the best solution for you but they certainly are worth talking to. They will probably offer some questions you need to ask other vendors.


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