The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), a regional planning agency that serves residents in the greater Boston area, and electric vehicle company Highland Electric Transportation Inc. (HET) have received funding to expand electric school bus service across Massachusetts.
The grant from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Accelerating Transportation Now (ACTNow) program will include $20,345 to explore methods of scaling up an electric bus pilot project with the City of Beverly to more of the state's cities and towns. The multi-year grant will also allow HET to secure a second electric school bus for Beverly Public Schools.
As School Bus Fleet previously reported in March, HET partnered with the City of Beverly and the district's transportation department to purchase one Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus from Thomas Built Buses, which was acquired through funding from the state’s Volkswagen settlement program.
Dana Cruikshank, the director of transportation for Beverly Public Schools, told SBF that the district's first Jouley electric bus was delivered on Wednesday.
“The overall cost is substantially lower with the maintenance of electric buses compared to diesel buses," he said. "I’ve also rode on an electric bus before we got this one delivered today, and it was very quiet. I can have a normal conversation without the extra noise.”
Despite noting limits on how far an electric bus can travel and its hours of operation, Cruikshank said the alt-fuel bus fits right in with the rest of Beverly Public Schools's fleet.
“Electric school buses will improve local air quality and save money for districts, but to get there we need partners like MAPC to build on Beverly’s leadership, creating industry standards, educating stakeholders, and establishing momentum across all communities in the Commonwealth,” said Duncan McIntyre, CEO of HET.
MAPC will provide matching funds of $19,575 to support cost-effective electric bus projects and increase adoption of the alt-fuel buses across the state. Additionally, MAPT and HET will implement a complementary electric vehicle curriculum, provided by nonprofit organization EcoRise, for students to learn about transportation electrification.
“MAPC has long been interested in transitioning diesel school buses to electric, which can significantly improve public health for children and families, among others, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rebecca Davis, the council's deputy director. “We are excited for this opportunity and hope that, by supporting the deployment of an innovative turnkey business model through the grant award, we can help to make battery-electric buses more cost competitive and logistically feasible for Massachusetts cities and towns.”
The MAPC and HET project team is one of nine selected to receive grant funding from MassCEC to demonstrate clean transportation solutions across the state.