Local schools get electric buses from state program

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Electric school buses are headed to three communities in West Michigan thanks to a statewide pilot program.

State officials unveiled the new buses Thursday morning at an event in Lansing.

The pilot program is providing $4.2 million, a portion of which is from a Volkswagon emissions settlement. School districts will only have to cover 30% of the costs associated with the buses.

Seventeen buses are being provided to seven districts statewide. Zeeland Public Schools will receive four of them, according to Superintendent Calvin Dekuiper. Others will go to the districts in Three Rivers and Kalamazoo.

“There’s about a 140-mile limit” per charge, Dekuiper said. “Nine dollars a day to charge these, so we’ll probably test them out in the in-town runs so that we stay safely in that range and overtime we’ll see how far we can get with them.”

Maintenance costs are also expected to be lower than the current buses.

Mac Dashley with the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation said the buses will play music between zero and 19 mph because they are so quiet.

“It’s going to be better for behavioral management because kids can talk to one another without screaming at one another,” Dashney said.

The buses go through extensive testing in Canada and are designed to handle winter conditions.

“The kids that are going to be riding on this bus in kindergarten, when they graduate from high school, every fifth vehicle will be electric,” Dashney said.

Zeeland expects its first buses to be delivered in about a month but it could be longer before the district puts them on the road.

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