A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the deployment of the United States’ largest electric school bus fleet took place at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, as per Electrek. The event was hosted by Highland Electric Fleets (Highland) and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one of the largest school districts in the country.
Maryland House Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo stated, “toxic pollutants can be as much as 2.5 times more prevalent inside a typical diesel school bus than inside an electric school bus.”
“Considering this, along with the carbon emissions caused by the 17,000 gallons of fuel that MCPS diesel buses use daily, electrifying our school bus fleets is an imperative public health, climate change, and environmental priority,” he added.
MCPS electrification progress
The MCPS received its first 25 electric buses during the previous academic year. Furthermore, one of its transportation depots had electric infrastructure already constructed for the school’s growing e-bus fleets.
Remarkably, it now has 86 electric buses in its fleet after adding 61 more. It will also add electric infrastructures to three more depots.
On the other hand, the brand and model of electric school buses are at the discretion of each school district. That said, Montgomery County selected Thomas Built electric school buses exclusively.
Its type C buses have an average battery capacity of 226 kWh and a range of up to 138 miles. Meanwhile, the Type A buses are smaller.
By 2025, Montgomery County Public Schools aims to replace 326 diesel school buses with electric school buses.
Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight claimed that when the target 326 e-buses is hit, “we are going to be saving upwards of 6,500 gallons of diesel fuel per day, and immediately, this is going to cut costs by 50%.”
By 2032, its school bus fleet is expected to be 100% electric.
“Moving to electric transportation is not only a necessary response to climate change, but it is also something students have asked for at Board of Education meetings,” said Montgomery Board of Education President Brenda Wolff. “Partnerships with organizations like Highland are so important. It allows us to demonstrate our commitment to becoming a more sustainable organization while defraying the high upfront cost of electric school buses.”
Highland is North America’s leading school bus fleet electrification-as-a-service provider. According to its website, “With over 330 electric school buses under subscription, Highland is a leader in electrifying student transportation. Our team deployed the first Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) programs in Massachusetts and Vermont and partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools to build the largest electric school bus fleet in North America. Backed by $253 million in funding and project financing, we’re equipped to help communities get tomorrow’s fleet on today’s budget.”
The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 in Maryland mandates that all new school bus purchases and contracts be electric by 2025. Notably, electric vehicles make a significant contribution to environmental preservation. Governments and other institutions must collaborate to encourage EV adoption and create a more sustainable future.