Carmel, IN — Carmel Clay Schools on June 24 welcomed the first all-electric school bus to Indiana, project partners announced. This is a part of its initiative to move to greener, alternative fuel buses.
The zero-emissions bus, which was built by manufacturer Blue Bird and powered by the Cummins PowerDrive system, will reduce harmful emissions and create a safer environment for the students and communities in Carmel, Indiana.
“Carmel Clay Schools has been pursuing alternatively-fueled school buses for several years, and we see this as another step in expanding our efforts by introducing this zero-emission electric school bus into our fleet,” said Ron Farrand, director of facilities and transportation for Carmel Clay Schools. “We believe it is important as a pilot project to show how this type of bus will perform and to further reduce NOx and other emissions in our school district.”
Carmel Clay Schools introduced this Blue Bird electric bus into their fleets using the Carmel Clay School Bus Replacement Fund with help from the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Since the bus is 100% powered by electricity, it emits zero harmful substances such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds and hydrocarbons.
South Shore Clean Cities developed and submitted the successful grant application and serves as project manager for the electric school bus project. In that role, South Shore Clean Cities worked with infrastructure providers and school officials to provide critical education on charging infrastructure, charging best practices for energy efficiency and maximum range and reliability. The nonprofit is also managing the destruction of the diesel bus the new electric bus is replacing as well as required reporting and metrics.
The data collected from this project will be used to serve as an example to help other school districts follow Carmel Clay Schools as a leader in implementing zero-emission school buses into their fleets.
“South Shore Clean Cities was thrilled to partner with our members Blue Bird Corporation, Cummins and MacAllister Transportation to help bring the first electric school bus in the state of Indiana to Carmel Clay Schools through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund grant program,” South Shore Clean Cities project manager Ryan Lisek said. “We applaud Carmel Clay Schools’ administration and school board for their leadership in supporting sustainable transportation to improve air quality for their students as well as all of the residents in the district.”
The district installed two charging stations, one at its east side lot and one at its bus garage to allow the bus to recharge in the same location where maintenance tasks are being performed. Manufacturers like Blue Bird recommend setups such as this to take advantage of opportunity charging, allowing electric buses to be charged when the bus is not running. Maintenance on a Blue Bird electric bus is minimal, which eliminates the need for conventional fuel, air filters and transmission service and offers comparable performance to a traditional internal combustion engine.
“It’s always exciting to be part of the introduction of the first electric-powered school bus in a state,” Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird Corporation, said. “This one bus is bound to lead to more positive changes, and we are looking forward to seeing the positive environmental impacts this bus will have as well as the maintenance and fuel cost savings the district will experience.”
The district has already begun implementing alternative fuel solutions into its fleet, with 24 of its existing buses being powered by propane autogas. The district plans to introduce more alternatively fueled buses in the future, such as electric, to create cleaner air for their students and communities.