As the Frederick County Board of Education continues to explore sustainability policies and programs, the board discussed the possibility of adding electric vehicles to the fleet of approximately 425 buses.
Board member Mike Bunitsky proposed the discussion, citing the county’s electric transit buses as a potential pilot model. On average, the county saved $45,000 on maintenance and fuel costs for each of its five electric buses, according to Bunitsky.
A new electric school bus, however, costs about $300,000, according to Fred Punturiero, director of transportation for FCPS. The school system currently spends less than $100,000 when it buys a new bus.
The county’s five transit buses were secured through a grant, which the board said would not be available for the school system.
Bunitsky asked the board to consider asking the state for any possible grants it might not know about.
School board Vice President Liz Barrett and board member April Miller expressed mild support for a possible pilot electric bus in the city of Frederick if funding became available. Board member Colleen Cusimano proposed the possibility of acquiring electric service vehicles as opposed to buses to save money on the initial investment.
While any electric buses are a long way away, the board discussed the potential need for solar panels and electric vehicle chargers at its transportation facilities when they are renovated. Last month, the board chose to move forward with a near $14 million plan that would overhaul the transportation center on Hayward Road, and add a new facility — potentially at the public safety training site in Frederick.
The board thought it might be worthwhile to add solar panels and electric vehicle chargers at the facility as a way to prepare for the future.
“The facility won’t be renovated again in my lifetime,” Barrett said.
Before nixing the idea as a whole, the board decided to bring back the larger theme of sustainable initiatives at a future worksession.
ESBC’s Take – It is quite sad to see that the school board could not see the benefits of purchasing electric school buses or investing in a sustainable future. The fact that they are spending $14 million to renovate their transportation hub and will not add solar or charging stations shows a total lack of vision.
I know that the initial costs where about three times the cost of a tradition school bus. But from the figures given, the school district would make that up in savings in 4 years. The bus would further pay for itself in 6 years and make the district money after that. Considering, most electric school buses issue a 12 year warranty the bus would pay for itself and the purchase of a second electric school bus.
But the main problem is still the initial cost of these buses. But the only way to get the costs down is to invest in the technology now. It is good that there are a few funding programs for transit buses but we need to focus on school buses as they are the largest form of public transit and they serve a young children who are more affected by the pollution emitted by these buses.
Hopefully, Maryland will put a significant amount of the funds they get from the VW settlement towards electric school buses.
The classic American school bus — yellow, loud and trailing diesel exhaust — may soon get an electric upgrade.
Each weekday morning, buses running on nothing but battery packs shuttle students to schools in northern Sacramento and the neighboring suburbs. The vehicles — made by Lion Bus of Quebec, Trans Tech Bus of New York state and Motiv Power Systems of Hayward — are cleaner and quieter than their diesel-burning brethren. Since they spend most of the day idle, recharging isn’t a problem.
“It really fits for school districts, with the way we operate,” said Timothy Shannon, director of transportation for the Twin Rivers Unified School District. “The kids are excited about riding them, because they’re electric and they’re new.”
School districts across California are experimenting with electric buses, drawn by the appeal of exhaust-free driving. They are partnering with state and local government agencies to share the high up-front cost — anywhere from $225,000 to $340,000 for an electric bus, versus $100,000 for the fossil-fuel version — while hoping to recoup some of the money through lower maintenance and fuel bills.
“We want to make sure the (environmental) footprint we leave out there is as minimal as possible,” said Terry Guzman, director of transportation for the Napa Valley Unified School District, which had two of its diesel buses converted to electric. “And with the kids, their respiratory systems aren’t fully formed yet. Diesel’s something we want to move away from.”
California officials, who view electric vehicles as weapons against global warming, are starting to funnel money to school districts willing to give buses a try. The Legislature last year approved spending $180 million of the proceeds from the state’s climate change cap-and-trade system on vouchers for hybrid or zero-emission trucks and buses. Another $100 million will go to a program that, among other things, pays to replace old school buses.
In addition, California utility regulators last week approved a $2.2 million Pacific Gas and Electric Co. proposal to study using electric school buses as, in essence, big batteries that can send energy back to the state’s electric grid when needed. School districts could one day get paid by utilities to use their buses for energy storage.
Many districts have been pursuing cleaner buses for years, and they already have alternatives. The majority of the Napa district’s 56 buses, for example, run on compressed natural gas, which puts out almost none of the tiny soot particles that come from burning diesel. Other buses run on propane. Even diesel buses are much cleaner than they once were: Since 2014, California has required large school buses to have filters to trap most of the soot, although the vehicles still emit smog-forming nitrogen oxide as well as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The idea of a plug-in bus for students isn’t new. Blue Bird built an early version in 1994, with lead-acid batteries. Napa tried those as well, Guzman said, but they took too long to recharge between runs.
“They wouldn’t always accept enough of a charge for us to know we could safely get to American Canyon and back,” he said. “But the technology with batteries has changed so much, that’s not necessarily going to be a problem now.”
Guzman recently drove one of the district’s newly converted buses — switched from diesel to electric by TransPower of Escondido (San Diego County) — to Lake Berryessa as a test, and found that the bus used less electricity on the trip than he expected, despite the hills. But the two converted buses, which use lithium-ion batteries, have been plagued with electronic glitches that appear to be tied to the vehicles’ motherboards, prompting the district to send them back to TransPower for repair.
“I’m not going to risk having a breakdown with kids,” said Guzman, whose district transports 1,100 to 1,300 students per day. “And I don’t want an $800 tow bill, either.”
With a typical range of about 80 to 100 miles per charge, the current crop of electric buses works well on most twice-daily routes. Longer field trips, however, aren’t a good fit, said Mark Plumb, transportation manager for the Torrance Unified School District in Los Angeles County, whose district also has two buses converted from diesel to electric by TransPower.
“They don’t go far enough for us to use them on athletics, after they’ve run a full day,” Plumb said. “They wouldn’t have the range to take a team out to someplace in L.A. and bring them back.”
Joshua Goldman, TransPower’s vice president of business development, said buses with longer ranges will come, as the technology improves. And he acknowledged that Napa’s converted buses have had bugs. Torrance’s, too.
“We recognize that they’re early adopters of new technologies on hand-built buses,” Goldman said. “And a lot of lessons have been learned on those buses, but we’ve still got a ways to go. … I’ve been working on heavy-duty (vehicles) for 20 years, and the first ones are always the hardest.”
As battery costs drop, and production of electric buses cranks up, Goldman expects the vehicles to reach cost parity with conventional buses sometime between 2025 and 2030. Jim Castelaz, chief executive officer of Motiv Power Systems, which makes electric power trains that manufacturers can integrate into their buses and trucks, also expects prices to drop. But he isn’t sure parity is necessary for the technology to take off.
Like other electric vehicles, plug-in buses should require less maintenance over time than those with internal combustion engines, he said. And the electricity to fuel them will cost substantially less than diesel.
“It costs one-sixth to one-eighth as much to operate as a diesel bus,” Castelaz said. “I don’t think electric buses need to be the same price as diesel buses. It’s a much better product.”
January 18, 2018, ADOMANI, Inc. acknowledged the receipt of a purchase order from Blue Bird Corporation for zero-emission electric drivetrain systems for Type-C and Type-D school buses. These drivetrain systems are the next step in Blue Bird’s continued performance benchmarking, durability testing and production process refinements as it proceeds towards its 2018 production ramping goals. Once completed, these electric school buses will join the existing Type-C and Type-D buses that were unveiled at industry events earlier this year and featured at ride-and-drive events in Columbus, Ohio, Lansing, Michigan, Fort Valley, Georgia and throughout California.
“There are purchase incentives available for electric school buses in California and New York ranging from $150,000 and $220,000 for each electric school bus and Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funds potentially available on the horizon that other states could direct towards the purchase of electric school buses,” said Jim Reynolds, President and CEO of ADOMANI. “Combine this with the fact that the final product is coming from the premier school bus industry leader with an established dealership network for sales, maintenance, warranty, and the choice of these zero-emission school buses is very compelling.”
The main intention for the grant project was to accelerate the turnover of the California school bus fleets to the low-carbon transportation options that can be useful especially in the rural school districts that have limited access to other funding sources. Generally, the small and rural school districts have old and poorly managed school bus fleets and have not been privileged to receive any funds for replacement or upgrading projects.
Hence these zero-emission electric school bus purchase orders from various leading companies could be the largest milestones and demonstrate the real focus on the environment-friendly initiatives that would benefit the students, bus drivers, and all the surrounding communities.
It is anticipated that Blue Bird dealers in the United States will begin accepting customer purchase orders later this month for the “Powered by ADOMANI” zero-emission electric school buses and that deliveries for the Type-D All American will begin in mid-2018. In October last year, ADOMANI announced that its School Bus Sales of California subsidiary had received a purchase order from Calaveras Unified School District totaling to over $1.1 million for its zero-emission electric 72-seat school buses.
“Powered By ADOMANI” Drivetrain Order to Help Support Testing, Production Process and Demonstration Unit Demand from Blue Bird’s Network of 46 US Dealers.
First and foremost, I want to begin by thanking you for your ongoing commitment and support as we continue our pursuit of building the North American leader in All-Electric Bus Transportation. 2017 was a year of tremendous progress for the industry and our Company, and as we drive into 2018, I want to share with you some of the various developments taking place at GreenPower Motor Company.
Last year, we launched the world’s first purpose-built, battery-electric School Bus, the SYNAPSE 72, and received 11 purchase commitments for this model. One of the orders is from the Los Angeles Unified School District, which as a customer by itself could consume all of our manufacturing capacity for the next few years if we were to replace only a small part of their fleet. Deliveries for this model will start in June 2018. Currently, five units are in production, and all 11 buses are expected to be delivered by the end of 2018.
Another key milestone involves the demonstration of our EV550 Double Decker that has been running in Victoria, BC, with CVS Tours. This initial one-bus, one-year demo lease has turned into a commitment for nine buses, representing 100% of CVS’s double decker fleet. CVS is our first repeat customer, and also the first entity in North America to acquire what happens to be the only all-electric, purpose-built double-decker bus in the market. Two of the nine units are already built and will be running by March of this year. The remaining seven will be delivered by 2020. We continue to market our double decker both in Canada and USA, and this product alone has tremendous potential for our company.
In California, deliveries have commenced for the heart of our transit line, the EV350 (our 40’ low floor transit bus), to Porterville Transit. We expect the first of these buses to enter service in March ’18, and expect all 10 to be in full service by end of this summer.
The SYNAPSE Shuttle, which is based on our school bus design, is also generating significant interest in the market. This bus has been on demonstration tours in both the US and Canada, and we’re confident that initial sales will be achieved in the coming quarters.
I’m excited to introduce to you our 25’, class-4 mini bus: the EV STAR. This new model will officially be on the market in April of 2018. We have 10 units currently in production, scheduled for May completion, and already have commitments for six of these units. An aggressive schedule of demonstrations is set for this summer, and in terms of unit sales, this product could very well emerge as our #1 seller.
New in 2017, our EV250 thirty-foot, low-floor transit bus was unveiled at the National APTA show in Atlanta this past October and has received multiple requests for demos and quotes. Since then, the bus has gone on demonstrations in Arizona and throughout California. As we continue to market this bus along with our entire product offering, our pipeline is building, and long sales cycle decisions become increasingly probable, supporting our overall outlook. We are committed to achieving initial sales of EV250 this year.
Construction for our Porterville assembly plant continues, and this month we are opening a new Los Angeles sales office. We have hired a VP of School Bus Sales and Marketing, Ryne Shetterly. Ryne comes to us with more than 10 years of experience in the manufacturing and sales of heavy duty vehicles. Most recently, he ran sales for Complete Coachworks selling their commercially successful ZEPS, heavy duty battery electric buses. We are currently in the process of hiring sales, engineering, administrative, maintenance and production staff to support our sales activities, as well as process and build our orders, and to maintenance our deployed equipment.
All of our models have been approved by CARB for HVIP vouchers; providing a minimum of $90,000 per EV STAR and up to $245,000 for the SYNAPSE 72. Every one of our models has been certified by the US EPA, the first hurdle for making them eligible for many national and local incentives. Our EV550 Double Decker is already eligible for vouchers in BC that our customer CVS Tours is using for their purchase. Our School Bus, the SYNAPSE 72, will actually cost less than the equivalent diesel school bus with the California HVIP voucher. This means we ultimately provide a School Bus that is safer, costs less to buy and costs less to operate in perpetuity. All this while cleaning the air and protecting the environment.
The GreenPower advantages are:
The only zero-emission product line that addresses transit, school and private operator markets. We are the only public small cap pure-play, with a full product offering being marketed in North America, and as a result, we are emerging as a significant player in the industry
Our management team has a proven track record of designing, building and selling new energy vehicles
The lowest per seated passenger price of any heavy duty EV product
We utilize and leverage the current charging infrastructure that is already in place and is in the process of doubling (thanks in part to VW settlement monies)
GreenPower has clean-sheet bus designs that use the best components available on the market today
We have a very robust sales pipeline and are building and delivering product
We are working on developing our next generation products like solid state batteries and autonomous vehicles, which we’ll discuss in further detail in future updates
Importantly, customers that have demonstrated our buses are placing orders for more, a true and vital ‘vote of confidence’
With all of our accomplishments, we need to amplify our message. We expect to hire a PR firm and engage a seasoned professional for a direct campaign to secure new shareholders. With the breadth and quality of our product offering, the team we have assembled, our sales successes to date, and our ever-growing sales pipeline, we are more confident than ever that our years ahead show promise. While our stock performance languished throughout 2017, our team never wavered, and we achieved corporate milestones vital to our success!
As we continue to build this company, sooner or later I sincerely believe ‘the market’ will appreciate what we’ve built, and the rightful value of our product, and the opportunity we have in front of us.
I would like to thank you, our Shareholders, our employees and our customers for your past and continued support in helping us bring these clean air products to market. Together, we will continue provide compelling solutions for the most seminal issues of our time. Our future is GREEN!
January 9, 2018, On Monday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will be starting a three-year pilot program to test the viability of using all-electric transit buses in New York. It is estimated that there are only 250 other individual all-electric city buses in operation across the country.
Prior to launching the pilot program, the MTA conducted a four-year study of global best practices to choose which buses to use in the pilot program. The process included a review of reports from systems in Europe, Asia, and South America; involvement in industry groups such as the Electric Power Research Institute, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the American Public Transportation Association; in-person visits and consultations with transportation authorities in London, Geneva, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Montreal; and testing and inspections of buses from a variety of suppliers.
For the pilot program, the MTA will be leasing ten buses from two electric bus manufacturers, Proterra from Burlingame, California and New Flyer of America from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The goal of the program will be to provide actionable data on what works best in New York’s metropolitan environment. The data collected during the pilot program will be used by both the MTA and the electric bus manufacturers to determine what will work best for the city and how to improve the electric powertrain and charging technology.
If the pilot program proves to be successful, the MTA is planning to purchase an additional 60 zero-emissions electric school buses. This would represent about 1% of the MTA’s current fleet of buses.
Catch A Ride on the Electric Highway
Starting on January 9th, Commuters can ride one of the first three all electric buses from Proterra on the B32 line running between Queens and Brooklyn. Seven more buses will be phased in over the next month, including five electric buses from New Flyer which will operate in Manhattan running the M42 and M50 crosstown routes.
Proterra’s buses will run on the B32 line between Long Island City, Queens and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The B32 terminates in Long Island City at the corner of 21st Street and 44th Drive, close to the Citicorp Building. It connects riders with the E, G, M and 7 trains at the nearby Court Square station, as well as the Q67 and Q69 buses. The B32 primarily runs on 11t Street and crosses the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn, connecting riders to Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
Leasing the five buses and charging equipment from Proterra will cost the MTA about $4 million.
Proterra’s three-year lease includes five buses, six depot charging stations and one en-route high power charging station. The six depot charges will be installed by Proterra at the Grand Avenue Depot in Maspeth, Queens and a Manhattan bus depot where the buses will charge when not in service. The high-power charging station will be located at Williamsburg Plaza in Brooklyn and used to extend the range of the buses without having to return to the depot.
Leasing the five buses and charging equipment from New Flyer will cost the MTA about $4.9 million.
Along with the five buses running crosstown on 42nd Street and 50th Street in Manhattan, New Flyer will install two depot charging stations in the Michael J. Quill bus depot in Manhattan.
New Flyer will also be providing two en-route charging stations. One on East 41st Street and another at Pier 83, Circle Line near West 43rd Street. The MTA will be testing these high powered en-route chargers to see if they can support 24 hour operation of the buses without having the buses return to the depot.
Benefits of Electric Buses
Although not easily quantified, the electric buses will cut down on the levels of pollution on their routes. This will make the air easier to breathe and lower irritation to people with sensitive eyes.
Neighborhoods in which these buses will operate should notice a reduction in noise due to the silent operation of electric buses.
The commuters should also have a more enjoyable rider without the constant drowning of an engine and higher background noise levels. Commuters will also be able to charge their mobile devices as the buses are equipped with USB charging ports.
WIFI will also be provided on the buses.
The MTA should also see significant cost savings of over $400K per bus in the operation of the buses over their lifetime. In general, electricity costs about half of diesel fuel to provide the same number of miles. There is also significantly less maintenance as electric motors have only one moving part and does not require lubricant and coolant fluid changes. Electric motors also aid in braking as it regenerates electricity to lower the wear on conventional brakes by as much as a two-thirds.
A Small Step in the Right Direction
Governor Cuomo has challenged the MTA to not only overhaul the fleet, but to take the opportunity “to also reduce emissions that impact the environment and public health. This new program helps the MTA secure a cleaner and greener future while leveraging the latest in innovative advancements to push New York’s transit systems into the future.”
Craig Cipriano, Executive Vice President of MTA Bus, wants everyone to know that “[o]ur vision someday would be to have that zero-emission bus fleet.” If the pilot program shows that the electric buses can withstands the city’s hot-heat and cold-cold, they plan to add another 60 buses.
MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein wrote on Twitter that other cities had problems with electric buses in extreme heat and cold. “We are totally committed to this. But let’s spend our money wisely. In Phoenix electric buses melted. In Mass., they didn’t work in extreme cold and snow. We have all that in NYC. Let’s make sure they work, seems prudent right?”
Councilman Rafael Espinal has been very critical of MTA’s slow adoption of electric transit buses. In response to the pilot program announcement, he said: “this is a great first step, but we can aim bigger in the roll out of electric buses. Aiming bigger will improve our city’s air quality and drive us toward realizing our carbon reduction goals. I look forward to working with the Governor, MTA, and advocates in continuing the conversation on how we can do more to maximize on the change electric buses will bring.”
One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward
The 10 buses represent a small fraction of the MTA’s fleet. The MTA operates a fleet of approximately 5,800 transit buses in and around the City. Currently the fleet is made up of roughly 3,400 diesel buses, using ultra-low sulfur diesel and another 1,700 hybrid bus. 700 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses make up the remainder of the fleet.
To Councilman Espinal’s point, as the MTA is testing the new electric buses, they have spent more than $332 million to purchase 618 diesel buses and 10 hybrid models.
The MTA have also ordered 110 new CNG buses to replace some of the oldest diesel buses in the fleet that operate in the Bronx and Brooklyn. However, CNG buses are cleaner and have lower emissions than diesel buses.
The buses should start being deployed in January of 2018. All of the new buses are expected to be in operation by the first quarter of 2019. The new buses will be the first CNG 60-foot articulated buses and will increase capacity on their routes.
L Stands for Lost Opportunity
In 2019, the MTA will be stopping L train service for 15 months to complete repairs to the Canarsie tunnel which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. To help commuters cope with the lose of service, the MTA will be using 200 diesel powered buses.
Councilman Espinal and others were pressuring the MTA to purchase enough electric buses to accommodate commuters impacted by the L train shutdown.
MTA Defends Slow Rollout
However, MTA managing director, Ronnie Hakim defended the decision at a City Council meeting in December. She said that “these are expensive investments we’re making” and the agency wants to avoid a mistake with untested vehicles.
Cipriano also advises caution in adopting electric buses stating that their research has shown some early deployments have experienced some issues. Before he is willing to commit to a so-called alternative propulsion system, he needs to ensure that the tech holds up.
“A really robust resiliency plan. As we all recall around Sandy when we had issues with power and the subways were down, really the buses were the ones that came to the rescue and started up the city once again,” Cipraino said.
But the MTA seems to be committed to making the transition to a more environmentally friendly transit system.
“As a hub of business and transportation, New York City is an ideal proving ground for both electric buses and the charging technology,” said MTA Chairman, Joseph J. Lhota. “As we continue to modernize our public transit system, the MTA looks toward a more sustainable future by continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and innovating in all of our operations.”
New York State has the lowest per capita energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation thanks, in part, to the fact that two-thirds of the state’s residents live and work in the region served by the MTA’s various properties, including the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, and MTA buses and subways.
While the MTA produces 2.1 million metric tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions a year, its transit operations actually reduce the emissions by 17 million metric tons annually versus everyone using personal transportation. The MTA is the first transit agency to quantify such emissions on a regional basis, and does so as part of its ongoing mission to measure all of the benefits of public transportation.
On January 8, 2018, Blue Bird, Adomani and A-Z Bus Sales released a tentative schedule and locations for the first 6 Ride and Drive events for the All-Electric School Bus ”Powered By ADOMANI.” The events are designed to build stakeholder familiarity with the newest product offering from Blue Bird Corporation. With decades of collective school bus marketing, sales and support experience, the staff of ADOMANI and the Blue Bird Dealer in California, A-Z Bus Sales will be on hand to facilitate rides, field funding questions and discuss the pre-order process.
Local Utility Companies have been invited to discuss infrastructure, best practices for charging and general planning consideration for wider electric vehicle adoption.
Local Air Districts and State Agencies have also been invited to experience the Ride & Drive and have committed to attend some of these events.
The purpose of the Ride and Drive event seems to be the tour event hinted in June of 2018 when Adomani’s buses where approved for California’s HPIV program. It’s anticipated that customer purchase orders will be accepted starting later this month by Blue Bird dealers for the ”Powered by ADOMANI” zero-emission electric school buses and that deliveries for the Type-D, All American will begin in mid 2018.
January 8th Bellflower Unified School District, 15330 S. Woodruff, Bellflower, CA 90706
January 9th Visser Bus Services, 1469 West 9th Street, Upland, CA 91786
January 10th San Diego Unified School District, 4710 Cardin Street, San Diego, CA 92111
January 11th Fruitvale School District, 7311 Rosedale Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93308
January 12th Central Unified School District, 4200 North R Grantland Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722
January 16th Twin Rivers Unified School District, 1400 Grand Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95660
January 17th Fremont Unified School District, 43770 South Grimmer Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94538
”Having been involved with new product offerings in the past, I know how critical it is to preemptively get in front of the potential customer base with the new product as early as possible. In this case, it means getting school bus drivers behind the wheel, maintenance technicians around the drivetrain systems and getting transportation directors and the purchasing decision makers up to date with current and anticipated funding opportunities” said Jim Reynolds, president and CEO of ADOMANI. ”With purchase incentives available for electric school buses in California, New York and the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funds on the horizon that other States may direct towards the purchase of electric school buses, this market has reached a tipping point.”
”As the California Blue Bird Dealer, we’re especially proud that these electric school buses are coming from the proven school bus industry leader that student transportation professionals already know and trust” said John Landherr CEO of A-Z Bus Sales. ”With a history of industry-first offerings, a well-established dealership network for sales, maintenance, warranty and the choice of both Type D and Type C zero-emission electric school buses, Blue Bird will continue to be the leader.”