WEST FARGO, N.D. — West Fargo Public Schools unveiled the district's and the state’s first electric-powered school bus on Monday.
As previously reported in November, the district's board of directors awarded $314,200 in funding to Hartley’s School Buses Inc. for the purchase of one Blue Bird electric school bus. The funds were provided by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, and Cass County Electric in conjunction with Minnkota Power Cooperative.
“We are grateful that, with the financial assistance from our partnering agencies, we have been able to purchase our first all-electric school bus,” said Patti Stedman, president of the board for West Fargo Public Schools. “This bus will serve as a pilot that will help the district determine if we can migrate to a low-emissions fleet in the future. This investment is a great benefit to not only the district and our students, but also to the community as a whole.”
The Blue Bird Vision bus is 100% electric, and is equipped with the Cummins PowerDrive system, according to Blue Bird. The bus can travel up to 120 miles between charges, and will recharge at the district’s onsite charging station. The bus is also designed to operate in a variety of environments (including in temperatures as low as negative 20 degrees), and offers comparable vehicle performance to a bus with a traditional internal combustion engine, yet requires no oil changes, fuel or air filters, transmission service or additional fluids, according to the manufacturer.
Bradley Redmond, the transportation director for West Fargo Public Schools, said that the district estimates that it will save approximately 70% in energy costs and 70% to 80% in maintenance costs with the new bus.
“We congratulate West Fargo Public Schools on being first in its state to operate an electric bus,” said Mark Terry, chief commercial officer for Blue Bird. “The electric school bus market is growing rapidly, as electricity is a clean, efficient transportation power source that supports our customers’ environmental goals.”
West Fargo Public Schools currently operates 54 buses in its fleet. If provided additional grant funding, the district plans to add more electric vehicles, according to Blue Bird. The new electric bus will be widely seen at promotional events this summer throughout the state, and then assigned a daily route for the 2019-20 school year.