Increasing fuel prices and pollution caused by harmful emissions have compelled governments around the world to move towards alternate fuel technologies.
The obvious advantages of electricity powered vehicles have made electrification of public transport a world-wide trend. School buses have been slower to join the band wagon, due to a perceived high cost of entry.
However, recent research has shown that the many benefits offered by electric school buses may offset the cost barriers, sooner than we think.
Here are 10 reasons why – not just governments but also transit agencies, schools, communities and citizens – need to advocate the switch to e-school buses:
1.Improved Air Quality for Children:
Most of us have spent a major chunk of our childhood on school buses that belched out copious amounts of soot and poisonous gases.
We had no choice then, but why should children suffer the same fate today?
Research indicates that school going children on a school bus inhale 5-15 times more particulate matter, than their non-school bus counterparts – putting them at risk of grave lung related diseases.
In contrast, an e-school bus has zero tailpipe emissions, offering children the clean, unpolluted air that they deserve.
2.Lower Pollution Levels:
The sheer number of diesel school buses on the roads today means that not just children, but also people at large have to breathe in the same polluted air.
A move to e-school buses with zero emissions will bring about a real transformation in our neighborhoods and cities, with far reaching effects on community health and well-being.
3.Fuel Cost Savings:
In a bid to reduce dependence on expensive fossil fuels, school buses that moved to CNG and Propane saw a reduction in fuel costs of about 10-15%.
However, the early adopters of e-school buses have seen unprecedented savings, of more than 80%.
4.Lower O&M Costs:
Earlier, transport agencies had to budget huge amounts for the maintenance. But e-school buses neither have sooty residue, nor require oil changes or engine repairs.
E-school bus operators have seen a saving of as much as 75% on the maintenance cost.
Thus, the savings on account of fuel and maintenance alone can enable operators to recoup their capital investment in as little as four years.
5.Ideally Suited for School Buses:
Currently, the distance range of school bus electric batteries is 100-120 miles, which is enough to cover the catchment area of most schools.
This means that school buses can transport the children to school in the morning, recharge their batteries and be back in the afternoon to ply the children back.
Moreover, e-school buses have seen a much better improvement in mileage in the stop-and-go urban environments vs. the diesel school buses.
Since school buses usually follow a fixed route, better mileage and longevity of the bus is assured.
6.Higher Fuel Efficiency:
E-school buses are four times more energy efficient than diesel buses.
A recent comparative study indicated that the fuel economy of Diesel school buses was 4.8 MPG (Miles per Gallon), whereas that of e-school buses was found to be as much as 18.8 MPGe (Miles per Gallon equivalent).
7.Low Life-Cycle Global Warming Emissions:
There is an ongoing debate about the upstream emissions involved for electric vehicles.
However, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, USA, indicated that e-school buses had up to 70% less global warming emissions in their entire life cycle, as compared to diesel or even natural gas school buses.
This can decrease even further, with greener options like solar panels, batteries on site etc.
Since the travel distance of e-school buses is easily within the existing electric battery range, the transport agencies/ school authorities can actually profit from the left-over charge by giving it back to the grid at the end of the day.
A recent study by the University of Delaware in the US indicated that on an average, an e-school bus with V2G (Vehicle to Grid) capability could generate an additional revenue of around $ 6100 per annum.
This could help to compensate for the high cost of the battery.
There is a world wide interest in carbon credits today; Not just companies with CSR goals, but universities, schools, communities and entire cities want to reduce their carbon footprint.
By switching from diesel to electricity, e-school bus owners/ operators can now earn carbon credits and sell them to offset the higher purchase cost of the fleet.
10.Reducing Total Cost of Ownership:
While Diesel school buses needs major overhauls a couple of times in their life cycle, e-school buses only need to bear the cost of battery replacements, if any.
Batteries today come with a ten-year warranty; and as technology advances, the design and capacity of the electric batteries will only improve, while costs continue to go down, with increasing economies of scale.
Moreover, increased infrastructure investments in this sector have helped to significantly reduce charging time for the school buses.
Clearly, as far as e-school bus fleet owners are concerned, the future looks bright – and green!
With increased technology innovations on the one hand, and huge operational savings on the other, reaching a quick cost of ownership parity for e-school bus operators is a very real possibility.
Meanwhile, a School Bus Tracking System can further help to deepen efficiencies via automatic route optimization, streamlined telematics reporting, monitoring of driver behavior and better overall management of fleet operations.
What are your views on the outlook for e-school buses?
Do let us know by commenting below.