Indiana Should Use the VW Settlement Money to Buy Electric School Buses

Dr Stephen Jay and Janet McCabe wrote an opinion piece in the IndyStar, which was published on September 14, 2017 asking that the VW settlement money going to Indiana be used to purchase electric school buses.  Dr. Jay is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health and founding chair, IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. Mrs. McCabe is a former U.S. EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Office of Air and Radiation and senior law fellow at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.  They agree that now is the time to invest in electric school buses.  The money from the VW settlement will help to make the upfront costs competitive and the long term benefits make it electric school buses the clear choice.

Indiana should buy electric school buses

Idiana Should Buy Electric School Buses

In Indiana, school has been in session since early August and an estimated 650,000 children in communities across the state are climbing onto about 13,000 big yellow school buses every day. Unfortunately, many of these buses are still powered by dirty, diesel engines that cause asthma attacks.

The good news is that a healthier ride to school may be possible starting as soon as next year. That’s because Indiana will soon have the opportunity to use funds from the Volkswagen settlement to purchase clean electric school buses.

Over the course of nearly seven years, Volkswagen sold close to 600,000 diesel cars in the United States with engines programmed to trick emissions standards, contributing many tons of extra pollution to the environment. As part of a national settlement, the company is providing nearly $3 billion to states to support pollution-reducing projects. Indiana’s share of that is about $41 million. Governors and state agencies can spend these funds on a variety of options to reduce air pollution, including buying electric school buses to replace the aging dirty diesel fleet.

There are three reasons why doing so makes sense:

First, more children breathing easier. Nearly 9% of Hoosier children suffer from asthma, a disease that leaves their lungs susceptible to irritation from fine particles, nitrogen oxides, and other air pollutants in diesel fumes. These fumes seep into the cabins of school buses and trigger asthma attacks. Researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Washington have found that diesel school buses are responsible for millions of missed school days each year. Because children’s lungs are still developing, exposure to diesel pollution makes them an especially vulnerable population to lung diseases.

Second, healthier communities. A diesel bus driving around our cities and towns emits a chemical cocktail right at ground level, near our schools, playgrounds and homes. The average school bus makes 85 stops per day. With an electric school bus, there’s no danger from idling engines, because no emissions come out of the tailpipe. In fact, there isn’t a tailpipe at all.

Third, a more robust energy grid. As states shift to power grids that will increasingly draw from renewable sources, zero emission school buses can provide extra benefits. Because school buses operate according to school schedules, they can recharge their batteries overnight, when demand for energy is low and they don’t have to compete with other energy consumers on the grid. During peak demand times, such as hot summer days, electric school buses can serve as local battery packs to provide extra juice back to the grid when it’s needed most. That reduces the demand on all energy sources providing power to the grid and creates a more sustainable power system with more clean energy as the source. Ideally, electric school buses should be powered at night with renewable energy sources.

Electric school buses are not science fiction. There are already more than 100 on the road today in North America, and American companies known for their diesel technology, including Columbus-based Cummins, have announced investments in electric technologies for school buses. On a recent Midwest tour that included stops in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, bus drivers and children loved trying out a quiet and clean electric school bus.

Funds from the Volkswagen settlement are expected to be released in the coming months. Governors putting VW money towards electric school buses would drive the market forward and costs down. School buses represent the largest category of mass transportation in our country, larger than transit and rail combined. We urge Indiana to help move this market to zero emissions and demonstrate leadership for health, the environment, our energy future, and most importantly, our children.

New York City Council Member and School Bus Union Call for Electric School Buses for New York

Below is an opinion piece published in the New York Daily News on July 17, 2017 entitled “Reinventing the School Bus-iness” written by Daniel Garodnick and John Samuelsen. Mr. Garodnick is a New York City Council Member representing Manhattan’s District 4 and was a co-sponsor on proposed legislation to require the use of electric school buses to fulfill NYC Department of Education contracts. Mr. Samuelsen is the 10th International President of the Transport Workers Union and the President of the TWU Local 100 in New York. It is an informative article that touches on many of the problems with the current school buses system and we hope to be able to work with both organizations to help to bring about positive change.

Reinventing the school bus-iness

For years, the yellow school buses traveling New York City streets have had parents, elected officials — and even school bus workers — seeing red.

The Board of Education pays more than $1 billion a year to private bus companies that have little incentive to upgrade or improve service. The buses are prone to breaking down, lack air-conditioning and spew diesel pollution that harms our planet.

Concern about wages prompted the de Blasio administration to subsidize the wages of bus drivers through the School Bus Drivers Grant Program — shelling out tens of millions of dollars through a program of questionable legality that skirted the city’s procurement process by rewarding the very contractors that were willing to pay their drivers less. Even with the program, many bus drivers, mechanics and on-board monitors are still struggling to make ends meet.

There is a better route forward.

The city’s Transport Workers Union Local 100 — yes, the same men and women who run city buses and subways — are proposing a pilot program that will demonstrate how New York City can ensure better school bus service, reduce pollution, give parents a seat at the table and create good union jobs with solid wages, affordable health care and good pensions.

Here’s our plan. Let’s establish a unionized, worker-owned cooperative to transport students in non-polluting (and air-conditioned) electric school buses. For the pilot, we envision the worker cooperative entering into a contract with the Board of Education to provide service on approximately 15 existing routes that are not permanently assigned to any private company.

Why electric buses?

There are approximately 9,000 diesel and gas-powered school buses traveling along thousands of school bus routes in New York City. These buses emit tons of pollution into our environment and contribute to global warming.

A group of leading scientists last year outlined what was in store for our city in the coming decades unless the burning of fossil fuels is curbed: By mid-century, the number of heat waves per year could more than triple, the number of days over 90 degrees annually could double, and the sea level could rise by nearly two feet. By 2100, the city’s flood zone could cover 99 square miles.

It’s 2017 — long past time the nation’s biggest city to adopt an Earth-friendly alternative. Electric buses are made in New York State, and a contractor providing bus service in Copiague on Long Island started using all-electric buses in September.

A pilot program utilizing all-electric buses could support local manufacturing and the creation of much-needed blue-collar jobs in the region. If New York City starts to shift towards electric school buses, more manufacturers would look to set up shop in the state.

Why a worker cooperative?

Establishing cooperatives — where the workers themselves own the business — is a smart way to address the daunting problem of income inequality. Instead of enriching faceless investors in multi-national corporations or a small group of individual owners, profits are directed toward ensuring that workers are paid good wages and benefits on which they can raise their families. The workers themselves have strong motivation to deliver a good product: job security and a better quality of life.

City Hall has already recognized the personal and societal gains worker cooperatives offer. Two years ago, the city’s Department of Small Business Services, along with partner organizations, launched the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative. With more than $3 million in funding provided by the City Council, the it has been providing technical, financial and educational support to help create or sustain worker cooperatives.

In both fiscal year 2015 and 2016, nearly 50 worker cooperatives were created or assisted by the initiative, including a grocery store in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; a catering company in the Bronx; a landscaping business in Queens, and a janitorial services outfit in Manhattan.

“Worker cooperatives have the potential to provide entrepreneurs with access to meaningful and stable employment and improve the economic landscape across New York City,” Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop and City Chief Procurement Officer Michael Owh wrote in the latest SBS report on the project.

A board of trustees would govern this school bus cooperative. Workers would elect representatives, with some seats being set aside for other stakeholders, including parents. The board would hire a chief executive officer and staff to handle the day-to-day operations, while families would have a real voice and direct access to the highest level of the operation.

The yellow school bus situation has been an intractable mess for far too many years. It’s time to give the green light to a solution that’s better for kids and workers alike.

Motiv Power Systems and Trans Tech Buses Team up for the Sale of 13 All-Electric School Buses in California

May 11, 2017 – Motiv Power Systems, in partnership with New York’s Trans Tech, a Type A school bus manufacturer, is bringing zero-emission school buses to the Sacramento region.  The are helping local school districts transition their school bus fleets from diesel to all-electric.

Elk Grove Unified School District and Twin Rivers Unified School District purchased the buses thanks to a $7.5 million grant from the California Air Resources Board.  The school districts were able to purchase 13 zero-emission school buses as part of the Sacramento Regional Zero-Emission School Bus Deployment Project.

The new all-electric buses will be powered by Motiv’s all-electric powertrains, which are both designed and manufactured in California. The buses, Trans Tech’s all-electric eSeries built on the Ford E450 chassis, will be distributed by First Priority GreenFleet.

Beyond freeing buses from the volatility of oil prices, these buses will protect growing children from unnecessary exposure to fossil fuel pollution and particulate matter while also supporting local manufacturing in the production of the powertrains.

Motiv’s all-electric powertrain has not only powered school buses in California and New York.  Motiv has also retrofitted shuttle buses funded by Google and the California Energy Commission, delivery walk-in vans for AmeriPride, and an all-electric refuse truck deployed by the City of Chicago.

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, the chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, whose district includes the City of Hayward, where Motiv Power Systems manufactures its powertrains helped to secure the purchase of these buses.  Sen. Wieckowski feels that “the Sacramento Regional School Bus Deployment Project is a great example of how our climate policies are reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and creating jobs here in California.”

He also said that: “Motiv Power Systems all-electric powertrain kits are increasing the number of students who are transported in zero-emission vehicles.  This is especially beneficial to disadvantaged communities where poor air quality has severe health impacts for many residents. This grant puts us on the road to a cleaner California.”

John Clements, retired director of transportation at Kings Canyon Unified School District, says, “Health and safety standards are always important and even more so when transporting our future generations. So, seeing Motiv and its partners gain approval for both Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and California Highway Patrol Certification was paramount in providing our district with the right all-electric buses to fit our requirements.”

“We are thrilled that our partnership with Motiv Power Systems allows us to bring our all-electric eSeries to Sacramento County and the state of California,” says Trans Tech President John Phraner. “The eSeries is a tremendous complement to our proven lineup of fuel-efficient conventional school buses. Combining our signature aerodynamic design with the Motiv Power Systems powertrain and Ford E450 chassis provides customers interested in an all-electric Type A school bus the best choice on the market.”

Source: Next-Gen Transportation News

Motiv Power Systems has Sold Two All-Electric School Buses to Colton Joint Unified School District

September 6, 2017Motiv Power Systems has sold two of there Type C Starcraft eQuest XL school buses to the Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD) in San Bernardino County, California.  This follows a sale of 13 all-electric school buses by Motiv Power Systems and their partner Trans Tech Bus to the Elk Grove Unified School District and Twin Rivers Unified School District.

The Type C Starcraft eQuest XL school buses are certified for operation by the California Highway Patrol and will be deployed on routes in the next few weeks. Creative Bus Sales delivered the buses and will also provide service support.

Type C Starcraft eQuest XL school bus
Type C Starcraft eQuest XL school bus

Funded in part by a grant through the California Energy Commission and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the buses use Motiv’s all-electric powertrain and are built on Ford’s F59 chassis. The vehicles provide a maximum capacity of 48 passengers and a range of up to 85 miles on a single charge. Moreover, they support wheelchair access and can be configured to accommodate up to eight wheelchairs.

“We’re proud to be building a future with Creative Bus Sales and CJUSD, where a ride to and from school is not a threat to a child’s healthy lungs,” says Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motiv, which is based in Foster City, Calif. “As a father, I’m thrilled that Motiv can help families, disadvantaged communities and schools access zero-emission solutions that protect our children from harmful, cancer-causing pollutants.”

Source: NGT News

ADOMANI’s First All-Electric Type D School Bus is Added to the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program’s Vehicle Eligibility List

On June 21, 2017ADOMANI, Inc. announced that its new 72-passanger electric school bus has already been awarded a place on the California Air Resources Board’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project’s (HVIP) coveted Vehicle Eligibility List for a voucher amount of $95,000 and under certain circumstances up to $120,000.  HVIP offers point-of-sale incentives for clean trucks and buses in California. HVIP dealers offer reduced-price vehicles directly to purchasers.  Purchasers do not need to submit proposals, complicated paper work or wait to be reimbursed.  Incentives are locked in at the time of the purchase order.

ADOMANI will be taking its bus on tour, beginning with California schools that have been selected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the thirteen successful applicants for the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District for funding directly tied to the purchases of all-electric school buses.  According to the company the 72-passenger bus uses the latest electric drivetrain and battery technologies and meets certain California and federal requirements that must be satisfied in order to refer to the vehicle as “zero-emissions” which opens up grant and incentive funding opportunities.

“ADOMANI’s focus is on zero-emission drivetrain systems that are safe, reliable and durable, and that also potentially lower maintenance and fueling budgets and improve the air quality for the operators, student passengers and the communities where they operate,” said ADOMANI CEO Jim Reynolds.  “Having extensive experience in this area, the ADOMANI team will be in attendance at the annual School Bus Transportation News Conference and Trade Show in Reno, Nevada in early July and plans to meet with interested transportation directors about their electric school bus options.  It’s going to be an exciting event.”

Source:  Adomani Electric News: Adomani Takes Delivery of First All-Electric Type-D School Bus and

Adomani Receives HVIP-Eligible All-Electric Type D School Bus

CALAVERAS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BUYS 3 SYNAPSE 72 ALL ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES

October 30, 2017 – Calaveras Unified School District (Calaveras) recently placed a $1.1 million order with School Bus Sales of California, Inc. for 3 of the first purpose built zero-emission electric 72-seat school buses from GreenPower Motor Company Inc. School Bus Sales of California, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Adomani, Inc., focused on new vehicle distribution.  The buses are expected to be delivered by the summer of 2018.

The Calaveras school district services San Andreas, California.  Calaveras provides transportation for approximately 2,700 students by operating a fleet of roughly 40 school buses.

The new Synapse 72 all-electric school bus from GreenPower Bus.
The new Synapse 72 all-electric school bus from GreenPower Bus.

The money for the purchase was made available through a partnership with Senator Mike McGuire and the California Air Resources Board.  The North Coast Air Quality Management District has been tasked with administering the Rural School Bus Pilot Project (Rural Fund) for the State of California.  The Rural Fund was created to provide funds mainly to rural school districts, which have traditionally not had access to funding, to accelerate the adoption of lower carbon emission vehicles. 

The Rural Fund tries to prioritize replacing school buses that are over 20 years old as these buses emit twice as much pollution per mile as a semi-truck.  The US EPA estimates that more than half of today’s school buses have been in service for more than a decade.  However, the average age of school buses in California is believed to be fifteen years.

GreenPower’s President Brendan Riley states the “this is a major breakthrough for GreenPower as it marks the first customer order for our Synapse 72, the industry’s first purpose-built, all-electric school bus.” And this “is just the beginning of GreenPower’s pursuit to bring Safe, Sustainable Student Transportation to the marketplace.”

ESBC.org’s Take

The costs of these buses seem extremely high for this program.  At $1.1 million for three buses that is approximately $366,666 per school bus.  However this is a better start than doing nothing.  The Rural Fund is also targeted at some of the worse offending buses and can make a significant difference.  I hope that this program is ultimately a success and that the prices on these buses will come down so that more rural communities in need of these buses can afford them in the not too distant future.

 Source:  Post Analyst: Adomani, Inc. (ADOM) More Than Halved in Just Three Months

Blue Bird and ADOMANI Introduce All-New Type-A and D Electric School Buses at the 2017 STN Expo

July 11, 2017, Blue Bird, the nation’s leading independent manufacturer of school buses, unveiled two new electric-powered school buses at the Student Transportation News Expo and Tradeshow (STN Expo), held in Reno, Nevada, to nearly 1,000 live attendees and hundreds more on their live news feeds. Blue Bird introduced its all-new Type A Micro Bird G5 electric-powered school bus and then revealed its all-new electric powered Type D chassis which will power its Type D All American rear engine (RE) school bus developed in partnership with ADOMANI, Inc., and Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI).  This is the first All-Electric Type D school bus to be announced in the past 20 years.  Both the Micro Bird G5 Electric bus and T3RE “All American” Blue Bird bus will be available in 2018.

Blue Bird Micro Bird G5 Electric

This announcement comes on the heels of a $4.4M Department of Energy grant awarded to Blue Bird in December of 2016 to develop a Type C Vision electric-powered school bus. The company built its first electric-powered bus in 1994 for deployment in Southern California as a demonstration project. These new buses incorporate the latest technological advancements in electric motors, batteries and control systems.

“With diesel, gasoline, propane and CNG engines offered across our product range, Blue Bird already leads the way in the breadth of affordable engine offerings for our customers,” said Phil Horlock, President and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “The addition of electric-powered buses to our fleet is a further illustration of our commitment to provide the broadest array of school bus products that our customers want and value. With zero emissions, low operating costs and terrific electric engine development partners in ADOMANI and EDI, we believe now is a great time to bring these new electric solutions to the market.”

Blue Bird chose to display the Type D RE chassis at the STN Expo so that visitors could clearly see the powertrain and battery components. “The body will be exactly the same as the All American RE model you currently see on diesel units,” said Dennis Whitaker, Vice President of Product Development at Blue Bird. “After the show, this chassis will immediately be delivered to our design group in Fort Valley for body mount and to enter the ‘test and validation’ phase. Start of production will be in 2018.”

Blue Bird Type D All American Electric
Blue Bird Type D All American Electric

The Blue Bird All American RE electric bus chassis was developed in conjunction with ADOMANI, Inc. and operates on an energy-efficient electric drivetrain supplied by EDI. The bus offers battery capacities of 100-150 kWh with an expected 80-100 miles range from a single charge, depending on driving habits. Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology is also under development for this bus, which allows the bus to deliver electricity back into the grid, allowing contractors and school districts to “sell back” energy to power companies. This helps to reduce maintenance expenses and allow users to experience lower fueling costs that will drive a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

Additionally, a Type A Micro Bird G5 Electric school bus on a Ford E450 chassis, which touts a range of up to 100 miles in a single charge, made its debut at the show. “The Micro Bird G5 Electric will be offered as an integrated and certified solution that expands on Blue Bird’s market leading school bus product line,” said Steve Girardin, President of Micro Bird. “With 100 miles of range in almost all climates and comparable performances with a combustion engine, we are particularly proud that our Micro Bird G5 Electric will continue to further Blue Bird’s leadership in the reduction of greenhouse gases.”

Jim Reynolds, a 16-year veteran of the school bus industry and President and CEO of ADOMANI, Inc., commented on the announcement; “We are pleased to be working with Blue Bird, a trusted partner and long-time leader in the school bus industry, to help produce its first all-electric bus in two decades. This new Type D All-Electric School Bus will allow us to enter a new era of clean energy that will deliver a significant reduction in greenhouse gases. By leveraging state-of-the-art drivetrain and modern battery technology, we will be able to provide school districts and contractors with a reliable, cost-effective and zero-emissions transportation solution.  This benefits our children, our communities and our environment at large.”

As a supplier of all-electric and hybrid fleet vehicle solutions, this is ADOMANI’s first opportunity to accelerate the design, manufacture and marketing of its zero-emission drivetrains for new vehicles and for use in existing vehicles, including school buses and medium-to-heavy-duty commercial fleet vehicles.

Sources:  Adomani News: Introduce All Electric School BusUnveils All Electric School Bus, and Businesswire

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