Amid larger pushes by consumers and traditional automakers to go green with more hybrid and electric vehicles, New York State has rolled out a test fleet of its first all-electric school buses, and they’re right here in Westchester.
White Plains Public School District recently unveiled the new buses — which run near silently — in conjunction with the buses’ operator, National Express. Each bus gets approximately 66 miles per battery charge, charges overnight in just 4 to 6 hours, and can display the current charge level via an app on the drivers’ cell phones (as well as traditional gauges).
Since the rumbling diesel engines have been replaced with large battery units, a harmonious chime has been added to alert waiting students as well as nearby drivers and pedestrians to the buses’ presence.
“One of the major benefits for the school district is to be eco-friendly, decreasing our carbon footprint,” says White Plains City School District Supervisor of Transportation Sergio Alfonso.
One of the major benefits to local residents, however, is the price tag: $0.
While currently more than three times as expensive as traditional diesel buses, the new electric models are set to be more cost-effective over time. As a bonus, this test fleet was purchased from The Lion Electric Co. for the city by operator National Express and local energy utility Con Edison, who plunked down a sizable $500,000 on the deal, meaning Westchester County and New York State haven’t had to drop a dime so far.
Con Edison will be allowed to use the parked buses as power storage over summer break — a service for which they will pay National Express — which has the utility company looking forward to summer almost as much as school children.