A first-of-its kind all-electric mobile preschool bus will be hitting the streets of Colorado this autumn to put early childhood education on wheels.
The Magic Bus from Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicles is a program of the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365, a nonprofit dedicated to providing extended learning opportunities to students and families in Eagle County, Colo.
“The children and families served by the Magic Bus need to be kindergarten-ready even considering the current crisis,” said Kendra Cowles, YouthPower365 PwrUp senior manager. “The Magic Bus plays a critical role in preparing them to successfully transition to school.”
The all-electric bus will join its gas-powered counterpart so that two buses will make the rounds through neighborhoods four days a week, beginning Oct. 5. Classes are an hour-and-a-half long and are free of charge, according to Winnebago Industries.
The Vail Valley Foundation’s Magic Bus is based on Winnebago Industries’ standard J33SE zero-emission commercial vehicle, utilizing Motiv Power Systems’s all-electric EPIC Ford F-53 chassis. Summit Bodyworks was responsible for the vehicle upfit, and significant road testing has been conducted on the vehicle that houses six batteries and delivers up to 100 miles on a full charge, according to Winnebago Industries. The Magic Bus is reportedly expected to see up to 85% operation and maintenance cost savings.
“We are pleased to see our all-electric vehicle platform being used to provide early childcare programs for Eagle County’s low-income families. The all-electric vehicle will enable operation in a quiet, emission-free manner,” said Robert Kim, director of the Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicles division.
When the Magic Bus rolls into a neighborhood, it is designed to allow students a day of learning and emotional support from teachers through songs, read-alouds, exercise games, and vocabulary-building activities in Spanish and English.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, YouthPower365 worked closely with Eagle County Public Health to develop new protocols, including the creation of a sanitary environment, utilizing social distancing, masks, and frequent hand washing.
Another beneficial change is the new bus’s light carbon footprint.
Learn more about the Magic Bus program.