Alternative Fuels

Riteway taps solar power to charge buses

Posted on October 18, 2011

OAK CREEK, Wis. — Riteway Bus Service has taken yellow and green to a new level by using the sun to charge school buses.

The contractor, which won the National School Transportation Association's (NSTA) Go Yellow, Go Green award this summer, has launched a solar-powered station that charges the batteries of its 15 plug-in hybrid school buses.

Riteway held a ground-breaking event for the Oak Creek solar station last year with energy officials and the superintendent of the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District, for which the contractor provides transportation service.

The bus batteries can be recharged between routes under the solar station or at night at adjacent outlets.

A Wisconsin-based company designed and installed the solar station. The project was funded in part by the Wisconsin Clean Transportation Program, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program through the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program that required a dollar match from Riteway.

In selecting Riteway for its green award, NSTA also pointed to a number of other efforts that the company has implemented with its environmental sustainability program, including idling-reduction policies, emissions-reducing retrofits and new vehicle buying.

Riteway's initiatives were also detailed in a profile by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources last year. For example, under the company's fuel conservation program, managers report fuel consumption, monitor drivers and use electronic on-board units that provide engine diagnostic data.

Riteway has a recycling program in place at its eight locations. Beyond the usual paper, cardboard and plastics, the company recycles vehicle tires and fluids and burns engine waste oil to heat its shops.

In addition to giving out the annual award, NSTA's Go Yellow, Go Green program secures grants and offers a green certification program for school bus contractor members. For more information on the program, go here or contact NSTA staff at


Related Topics: efficiency, emissions, hybrid bus, NSTA

Comments ( 1 )
  • MWest

     | about 6 years ago

    I wonder about the cost of programs like these when there are so few dollars to spend. Plug in hybrids are much more expensive than a diesel engine. What was the cost of the charging station? What was the additional cost of on board electronic monitoring of the buses and the drivers. Did Riteway claim a tax credit for the part of the project they paid for? (my home system never would pay out if I hadn't had a 30% credit) What are the additional costs of maintaining these systems and training to use them. How much of the claimed 50% gain in fuel efficiency is now just part of the electric bill? Was anything really saved here or are expenses and resource consumption just transfered to other places? Unless I see businesses choosing to do this without state and federal funding help I assume they have just figured out a "Green" way to get someone else to pay part of their operating expenses. It is extremely hard to verify any claim of actual cost or resource savings in the green energy business but willingness to pay for 100% of the project yourself is a good start.

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