L’Anse Area Schools explains opportunities, challenges with electric school buses
UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - The buses currently at L’Anse Area Schools are the kind you typically see on the road, but a different kind of bus will be hitting the road next school year.
“We will work them into there on our closer-to-town shorter mileage bus routes was very appealing for the cost of the bus being close to nothing, to begin with, and also we are hoping to capitalize on some savings with the electric cost for charging less than what we would be putting in for diesel normally,” L’Anse Area Schools Superintendent Susan Tollefson said.
Tollefson says both drivers and students are looking forward to the new vehicles.
“People are pretty excited to be the first ones on the busses because they are not used to having brand new busses to drive because usually, we get busses that are a couple of years old off a lease,” Tollefson said. “Sometimes the students are riding, or the drivers are driving a bus that is 15 years old.”
Tollefson says she believes her district is a part of the future of bussing.
“I am sure there are other districts that are trying to watch and see how this goes for us and the electric vehicle industry is just growing around us,” Tollefson said. “I believe in the future you are going to see more electric buses around U.P. and as the charging infrastructure to support those chargers is upgraded that will become more likely.”
Environmental Analyst for Michigan EGLE Irene Queen says it is safer for the health of the children using them.
“Young people’s lungs are developing much more rapidly than adults’ because they are growing so they are more sensitive to exposure from diesel,” Queen said.
Queen says there were many U.P. school districts that were eligible but did not apply for the federal funding.
“There were three awarded and about 50% were funded with these busses,” Queen said. “I would suggest in the future when the next opportunity comes up that is a pretty high percentage it is a pretty good idea to get those applications out there for the federal program.”
Queen says it is part of a larger investment that will be going on for the next five years.
“It was part of a five-year $5 billion program and that is through bilateral infrastructure law,” Queen said. “There were 138 busses in 25 Michigan districts and the award was over $54 million.”
In Lansing, lawmakers are also looking to expand the number of electric buses statewide. In the current proposed budget, the state is looking to put $150 million into 500 additional busses for school districts.
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