Pictured are SD5 Trustees and Staff in front of the new electric school bus, which has been in operation on the Moyie route since June of 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

Pictured are SD5 Trustees and Staff in front of the new electric school bus, which has been in operation on the Moyie route since June of 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

SD5’s new electric bus making the rounds in Cranbrook

The bus has been on the Moyie route since June of 2021

The Southeast Kootenay school district (SD5) is reporting success with the newest electric addition to their school bus fleet.

SD5 trustees and staff got a tour of the new electric school bus on Tuesday, November 9th as part of an update with Mechanical Foreman Gerry Whitlock.

Both SD5 and SD6 (Rocky Mountain) each announced the purchase of one electric bus back in May of 2021. The SD5 bus began its route from Moyie to Cranbrook in June.

Whitlock says that so far, there is a good return buffer, the bus is noticeably more quiet and is expected to need far less maintenance than a regular diesel bus.

There are now 18 electric buses across 13 school districts in B.C. The new buses produce zero carbon emissions and save approximately 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to the province.

READ: B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

READ: BC Transit aims to have all-electric bus fleet by 2040

Whitlock explained that all of the drivers for SD5 were trained on the new bus.

“It’s not all that different from driving the other buses,” Whitlock said. “It just takes a little time getting used to the way it drives.”

Whitlock noted the regenerative breaking system, which essentially takes the energy from deceleration and powers the electric motor. As soon as Whitlock steps off the gas, the bus automatically, significantly slows down even before he presses the breaks.

The interior of the bus is much the same as a regular school bus, with a little less seating. The SD5 electric bus can hold 76 passengers.

The bus is rear-wheel-drive and has three strings of batteries. It gets plugged in at the end of each day and takes between 10 and 14 hours to charge.

Whitlock adds that the bus is primarily used for pick-up and drop-off to local schools, as well as in-town field trips.

He says that the bus is not meant for long trips, to Calgary or even Blue Lake for example. It’s best, he says, to ensure that the bus has more than a 20 per cent charge when returned at the end of the day.

If the bus were to run out of battery charge or become stalled on the side of the road, it would need to get towed back to the garage.

The bus will save on maintenance costs, as Whitlock says that the new electric buses are supposed to require one quarter of the maintenance to that of a regular bus.

Funding for the new buses comes from the Bus Aquisition program through the Ministry of Education. $13 million was allocated to the program to purchase 101 buses, including the 18 electric ones.

Each electric bus costs approximately $350,000, as opposed to a diesel bus, which is approximately $150,000. Additional funding support from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation supplements up to $150,000 for each electric bus.

School districts also have access to provincial funding for charging stations.



corey.bullock@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

 

Pictured is the new electric school bus for Sd5. This bus was purchased in the spring and has been transporting students on the Moyie route since June of 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Pictured is the new electric school bus for Sd5. This bus was purchased in the spring and has been transporting students on the Moyie route since June of 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Pictured is the new electric school bus for Sd5. This bus was purchased in the spring and has been transporting students on the Moyie route since June of 2021. The interior of the bus looks very similar to that of a regular, diesel school bus and holds 76 passengers. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Pictured is the new electric school bus for Sd5. This bus was purchased in the spring and has been transporting students on the Moyie route since June of 2021. The interior of the bus looks very similar to that of a regular, diesel school bus and holds 76 passengers. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Pictured is Mechanical Foreman Gerry Whitlock (Western Canada Bus) at the helm of the new electric bus for SD5. Whitlock took SD5 Trustees and Staff for a ride in the electric bus on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Pictured is Mechanical Foreman Gerry Whitlock (Western Canada Bus) at the helm of the new electric bus for SD5. Whitlock took SD5 Trustees and Staff for a ride in the electric bus on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)