HOPKINS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hopkins Public Schools is getting a federal grant for more than $1 million to buy electric school buses and charging equipment.
The district was notified Tuesday night that its application to the Environmental Protection Agency had been approved. Jennifer Frank, the transportation supervisor, said the district applied for the funding in July to help replace some of the buses in its aging fleet.
“It will be for three buses and the required infrastructure that it would take to charge them,” Frank said.
The district has been interested in electric options but the cost made pursuing the vehicles difficult.
“The grant award is for $375,000 per bus, which is kind of their cost at this point. A diesel bus will run us about $107,000 on average,” Frank said.
While the initial cost is higher compared to a diesel bus, savings come in other areas.
“The advantages are obviously the fuel source savings but the maintenance savings, too. They (electric buses) don’t require oil changes or transmission maintenance. They are quieter,” Frank said.
The district plans to use the electric buses on shuttle runs and shorter routes.
“The range is 120 miles per charge so we know that we won’t be able to utilize them for everything we do,” Frank said. “One charge is a quick charge. It takes just a few hours and then a full charge takes eight hours.”
The longer routes in a rural district mean diesel will still be needed, at least in the near future. The district expects its electric buses will ultimately have a longer life, Superintendent Gary Wood said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to improve our bus fleet. I think that electric buses have a place in our fleet. We can certainly use them and the cost of operation is going to be something that’s a benefit to the district,” Wood said.
Some nearby districts are already using electric buses and Hopkins consulted drivers before applying for the grant.
“The drivers have given us very good feedback,” Frank said. “They say that they like them. They like to drive them and they’re working out very well in their fleets, which was good encouragement for us to go forward with this for our fleet.”
The district expects the buses to arrive sometime in 2023.