Schetky Bus and Van Sales recently received orders from five Seattle-area school districts for a total of seven Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses. - File photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses

Schetky Bus and Van Sales recently received orders from five Seattle-area school districts for a total of seven Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses.

File photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses

A western U.S.-based bus and van dealer has reported a recent uptick in electric school bus sales in Washington state.

Schetky Bus and Van Sales recently received electric bus orders from five school districts in the Seattle area, according to a news release from the dealer. Orcas Island School District, Lopez Island School District, Elma School District, and Mary M. Knight School District 311 each purchased one electric school bus, and Highline Public Schools bought three buses, Randy Gregg, the dealer’s Washington sales manager, told School Bus Fleet.

All the orders are for Thomas Built Buses’ Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric bus.

“Being new to EVs, it was important for us to keep things as simple as possible,” said Devin Denney, the director of transportation for Highline Public Schools, on the decision to add electric school buses to his district’s fleet. “The idea of pairing the Proterra drivetrain and charging system with a Thomas conventional bus just made sense to us.”

Denney told SBF that the district's transportation department has been interested in electric vehicle (EV) technology for several years, but recent funding presented the opportunity to purchase an electric school bus.

“The Volkswagen (VW) mitigation settlement grant through the Washington State Department of Ecology is making it possible for Highline [Public Schools] to move forward at this time,” he added.

Similarly, Matthew Mallery, the transportation director for Mary M. Knight School District 311, told SBF that his district also received a portion of the funding from the state agency, and that the support was instrumental in its recent electric bus purchase.

"It helped us begin the process of moving our conventional fleet to an electric fleet as we look forward," Mallery added. "For our small, rural community, this is a big deal."

While Schetky Bus and Van Sales has historically seen a robust track record of EV and other alternative-fuel vehicle sales, it is experiencing a significant rise in interest in and purchases of electric school buses.  

“There has definitely been a huge uptick,” Gregg said of recent electric school bus sales. “Not only have states provided grants and tax incentives to encourage electrification of fleets, but they have also created initiatives aimed at making all vehicles electric by a certain date.”

Gregg added that these state incentives have encouraged districts to start considering electric bus adoption and once they saw the advantages, some took the next steps and applied for grants.

“It has cascaded into a very active market,” he said.

Additionally, the dealer said in a news release that its partnership with Proterra and Thomas Built Buses is placing it at the forefront of EV distribution in 2021.

David Schetky, the dealer’s co-owner, added in the release that it can also retrofit fleets by upgrading them with electric drivetrains and offer school districts a turnkey approach to electrifying their fleets.

“Schetky and our partners offer sales, support, infrastructure planning, and fleet implementation [services],” he said.

Schetky Bus and Van Sales, which is family-owned and is a Daimler Trucks North America certified Platinum Support Dealer, has served customers’ transportation needs for nearly 80 years.

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