First Student is ordering 260 LionC electric school buses.  - File photo courtesy The Lion Electric Co.

First Student is ordering 260 LionC electric school buses. 

File photo courtesy The Lion Electric Co.

School bus company First Student is ordering 260 school buses from The Lion Electric Co. (Lion).

This is the largest order of school buses by a single customer in the electric bus manufacturer’s history, and it will reportedly make First Student the largest operator of zero-emission school buses in North America, according to a news release from First Student and Lion.

Lion will start delivering the buses in the second half of 2021 through the first half of 2023. Transco, a subsidiary of First Student that operates in Quebec, will operate the buses.

“Today marks a new step in the adoption of zero-emission school buses,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and founder of Lion, in the news release. “First Student’s leadership demonstrates that zero-emission technology is here to meet the needs of the market at scale, as is our production capacity. We are not talking about pilot programs, but rather entire bus fleets going electric, with vehicles that meet the daily requirements of the industry’s largest operators.”

First Student already operates a number of Lion electric school buses. As part of the purchase, the LionEnergy team will work with the school bus company on strategy for the selection and installation of infrastructure so that the operator can adequately scale its zero-emission operations. (LionEnergy is the vehicle manufacturer’s team of infrastructure and energy management specialists who can help streamline the process of electric vehicle [EV] charging station installation and provide customized turnkey solutions.)

Paul Osland, president of First Student, described the electric school bus order in the news release as a “significant step to improve the environmental health of our student passengers and the communities we serve.”

“First Student embraces the importance that electrification and zero-emission technologies will play in the future of student transportation,” Osland added. “The electrification of school buses has already started and is poised to accelerate rapidly.”

The purchase of hundreds of electric school buses, as School Bus Fleet previously reported, follows First Student's entry into a joint venture with Next Era Energy Resources to pursue the electrification of tens of thousands of school and public transportation vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. The goal of the agreement between First Student, public transit company First Transit, and the North American electricity supplier is to accelerate the mass adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

“We are very excited to be putting the buses into operation in our own backyard here in Quebec, where soon an electric school bus will be a common sight,” said Benoit Morin, vice president of sales, Canada, at Lion. “Getting children excited about zero-emission technologies today sets them up for a lifetime of climate advocacy, to the benefit of their communities and the planet.”

Over the last decade, Lion has delivered over 390 electric heavy-duty vehicles in North America, according to the news release. Most recently, as SBF previously reported, the EV manufacturer delivered a LionC bus to Los Angeles Unified School District. The bus is the first electric school bus for the second-largest school district in the U.S., and the first of a total of 10 buses that it will receive from Lion.

The Canada-based electric bus manufacturer also recently announced that it has selected Joliet, Illinois, for the construction of its U.S. manufacturing facility. The new facility will represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the U.S.

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