Plugging in that school bus …

Hybrids are too often thought of simply in terms of personal vehicles. 

Hybrid school bus

They are also penetrating the big vehicle market space.  Consider the average delivery truck and all its starts/stops. There is a lot of energy to capture there, which is why UPS is pursuing hybrids.  And, as per Walmart and its hybrid trucks, they are hitting the semi-trailer world.  The are also making to trash trucks and offer the opportunity to silence those squealing brakes at 5:45 am.  And, well, now they’re coming to a school system (maybe) near you.

As per AutoBlogGreen, Mantee County, Florida, is getting 19 hybrid school buses “as part of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric School Bus Project. Designed to test the viability of the new buses, a hybrid and a control bus will travel the same route, alternating every two weeks, for a period of two years which should equate to more than a million miles of service each.”

This is a serious test plan that should provide inputs to decision making for school systems around the country.  There will be serious measurement investments:

An array of different measures will be tracked via a GPS system including acceleration, deceleration, braking, fuel economy and more.

This sort of research and data collection, with open publication of the data and research analysis, is required to help make “hyped concepts” into real options for local government administrators around the country.

Take a look at the objective: “fuel economy improvements of 70 to 100 percent will be realized on the plug-in hybrid vehicles plus a reduction in emissions of up to 90 percent.”

A doubling of fuel economy? Think it of this way, there are in NY state alone 46,000 school buses …  Rising fuel costs have hammered these school systems in recent years, leading to reductions in services. 

 Now, these buses are not cheap … showing up at $225,000 each as opposed to a ‘typical’ school bus of $75,000. But, these plug-ins are far from the mass-produced, assembly line stage, but the test and evaluation versions.

For the future, the question that requires answering:  For a doubling of fuel efficiency (and 90% reduction in pollution), what is the price differential that is worth paying?

2 responses to “Plugging in that school bus …

  1. Where is all of the electricity going to come from? The United States of America is running short on electricity now. Coal fired plants pollute. Natural gas is in short supply. Both cause global warming according to a few scientists. Nuclear is “dangerous”.

  2. The question posed in your post’s conclusion, regarding what price is worth paying, is a good one. What price indeed, considering these buses will be ferrying our next generation of children in an environment that needs to be safer and cleaner as we get (hopefully) wiser about our planet’s resources and health.

    And while we’re at it, let’s take another look at their teachers’ salaries.

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