In an effort to boost its commitment to sustainability, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is planning to transition its school bus fleet from diesel to electric.
The decision comes a year after one of the district’s middle school students, Holly Thorpe, presented findings of her science project to school board members, showing that carbon dioxide fumes inside the district’s buses were 10 times higher than limits recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Miami Herald.
Jaquelyn Calzadilla, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, told School Bus Fleet that the district submitted an application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in hopes of using a portion of the state’s $166 million share of Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds to cover the cost of the electric buses. Depending upon funding availability, Calzadilla added that the district would consider purchasing 10 to 12 new electric buses from the Florida Department of Education’s approved school bus manufacturers.
As for developing a charging infrastructure for the buses, Calzadilla told SBF that Miami-Dade is partnering with Florida Power and Light to determine the infrastructure needed to comply with the requirements for Level II charging stations.
During a demonstration drive held on Jan. 13, some of the district's students and parents had the opportunity to ride on a LionC electric school bus manufactured by The Lion Electric Co., the Miami Herald reports. Students told the news source that the ride on the alternative-fuel bus was “quiet, smooth, and fume-free.”
Two days after the demonstration drive, Miami-Dade County Public Schools posted a statement on its Facebook page detailing the benefits of an electric fleet.
“Our latest investment, an electric bus fleet, will provide students with more comfortable, greener bus rides, setting an example for clean transportation,” the district said in the post. “This change will reduce our carbon footprint by removing 25 tons of greenhouse gases per school bus in our fleet.”
Miami-Dade currently has a fleet of 1,060 school buses that transport 45,000 students daily with 840 routes, according to the Miami Herald. Calzadilla told SBF that the district’s electric buses would be assigned to routes based on the location of the charging stations.