HOOPESTON — Robert Richardson is interested himself to see what two new electric buses will mean in terms of savings and ease of service.
Richardson, superintendent of Hoopeston Area schools, said the buses arrived Wednesday.
An Environmental Protection Agency grant paid for the 71-passenger buses, which cost more than $374,000 apiece when figuring in the cost of the bus, charger and charger installation.
“They’re quite a bit more expensive than internal-combustion engine buses,” Richardson said.
The vehicles will mean a savings on fuel costs. Richardson will be interested in what they will mean in terms of utility costs to charge the vehicles.
He said the buses won’t be used for lengthy trips because of the limited scope of their battery charge.
“You have to be limited where you can operate these buses,” he said. “For our local extracurricular events, we could take them. If you’re driving 60 miles away, you’d be hard-pressed to get there and get back.”
The buses will be placed in the district’s nine-bus rotation for the regular before- and after-school routes.
Richardson said transportation director Denise Bray planned to take one of them out on her Wednesday afternoon route.
During the summer, school officials toured a Lion Electric plant where the buses were manufactured. Richardson got to drive one of them.
“They’re pretty snappy,” he said. “What blows your mind, it’s absolutely quiet.”
Drivers will be limited on the top-end speed limit. The buses are affixed with a governor that will limit them to no more than 60 mph.
In terms of whether electric buses are the wave of the future, Richardson added, “As the technologies improve, I could see more districts moving to electric school buses if the cost is more comparable to an internal combustion engine school bus.”