School District 69 (Qualicum) receives first fully electric bus – Parksville Qualicum Beach News


School District 69’s new all-electric school bus (Qualicum) brings the district closer to its carbon neutral goal.

The e-bus arrived on Thursday, May 20, bringing the total fleet to 28 buses. It will run one of the longest routes in the district at 619 kilometers per week, in order to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible, and can travel up to 200 kilometers on a single night charge.

District Director of Education Vivian Collyer said: “Overall our board has a climate action working group, and they’re creating a district plan – that’s one element. of this plan to become carbon neutral.

Chris Dempster, the district’s general manager of operations and maintenance, said the intention going forward would be to replace every diesel bus with a new electric bus as they descend.

“We hope government grants continue to support this, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a high priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Keven Elder.

Dempster pointed out that the district bus station on Springhill Road has a charging station that could accommodate up to 14 buses.

The electric bus is part of a larger provincial movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was purchased as part of the provincial bus acquisition program in mid-2020.

The price of a typical diesel-powered school bus costs around $ 140,000, Dempster said. Although this specific model of electric bus is “about three times more expensive” than a diesel engine, with the help of the procurement program, the district only had to shell out $ 65,000.

“We will save approximately $ 7,900 per year in fuel costs. And then along with the maintenance costs, those take about 20 percent of the maintenance of a regular bus. We should technically save about $ 10,000 a year in maintenance and fuel, ”Dempster said.

“And there’s that new bus smell inside,” District board chair Eve Flynn said with a chuckle.

As with their diesel buses, electric buses will have three interior cameras located at the front, center and rear of the bus. Like the rest of the fleet, it will only have seat belts for the first two seats, as it is not mandatory to have them for every seat, Dempster said.

Unique to the e-bus is its external speaker which emits a specific pitch frequency when the bus is in motion. Dempster said that with this particular model, the slower the bus, the quieter the speaker becomes, where at 30 km / h it goes off completely. The pitch acts as a warning function so that other drivers and pedestrians on the road can hear it.

Otherwise, without an external speaker, the bus is almost completely silent.

Under normal circumstances, it can carry 76 students when fully full, but while COVID-19 social distancing protocols are in place, it will only carry 48 students at this time.

Once the driver was fully trained, Dempster said it was a matter of licensing and inspection for the safety and enforcement of commercial vehicles. After that, the plan is to get the electric bus going before the end of June.

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