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California District Launches Country's First All-Electric School Bus

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the launch-is-metaphoric-remember dept.

Education 94

joe5 writes "Well, leave it the golden state. The Kings Canyon (near Squaw Valley) Unified School District recently launched the first all-electric school bus in the United States. The bus is a modified SST Trans Tech model based on a Ford E-Series van chassis — and Motiv Power Systems created the electric drive train. (The project was a collaboration between those two companies plus the California Air Resources Board.) The electric bus can carry 25 students with an estimated range of 80 to 100 miles— and while it costs more than a standard combustion engine version, is expected to save about 16 gallons of fuel per day. Thanks to a federal highway program, three more electric buses are on their way to the Kings Canyon district and similar programs are in the works in both Chicago and New York."

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LOL (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 5 months ago | (#46435133)

SO??? BFD.

Re:LOL (1, Funny)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#46435937)

Says you. I remember our president Bush Jr. got on bus looking just like that. I remember him saying, "Little Yellow Buses Rock!"

All Hale the Tea Party! XD

APK is a troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435137)

apk more like napkin am I right?

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435185)

Sure, it costs more than traditional fuel right now, but early adoption always costs more. It will drop.

Re:Cool (2)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 5 months ago | (#46435355)

That might be the case, but it might also not be the case.

Re:Cool (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 5 months ago | (#46435381)

I remember getting big whiffs of diesel exhaust while crossing between busses when I was in school (not on purpose, had to twice daily to get to/leave school). That can't be good for developing minds.
Too bad 80-100 miles doesn't cut it for out here. Half of our busses go 20-30 miles out of town to pick up kids, some go 50 miles out.
Great for in town routes though.

Re:Cool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435469)

Shitty asshole-shaped dick pumps creamed.
Chemical mushrooms.
Minuscule libertarian transporting.

What say you about these things, hm?

Re:Cool (2)

Plunky (929104) | about 5 months ago | (#46435477)

There are always outliers where this is going to be the case, but llikely the vast majority of school buses in urban areas could be replaced by something like this with lower running costs.

Now, you didn't say where you lived or if you had done a proper analysis of how they were collecting students.. but considering the cost of driving a bus such a distance, might it not be cheaper to collect the more distant students in a smaller vehicle?

Re:Cool (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 5 months ago | (#46435709)

Small town in the middle of nowhere. When I was in highschool there were something like 75-100 students living 25+ miles out of town. The furthest out kids had 2-3hour bus rides (due to stops).
Combine with winter temperatures that sometimes strands normal buses by freezing the diesel fuel into a gelatinous blob, I sadly predict electric buses will never come to this chunk of the US.

Though I do hope electric buses take off in places that can utilize them. The bus barns that maintain a school's fleet would be wonderful sources of performance data. Info like that could help design better systems for all electric vehicles.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435981)

Small town in the middle of nowhere. When I was in highschool there were something like 75-100 students living 25+ miles out of town. The furthest out kids had 2-3hour bus rides (due to stops).
Combine with winter temperatures that sometimes strands normal buses by freezing the diesel fuel into a gelatinous blob, I sadly predict electric buses will never come to this chunk of the US.

Though I do hope electric buses take off in places that can utilize them. The bus barns that maintain a school's fleet would be wonderful sources of performance data. Info like that could help design better systems for all electric vehicles.

If the cities replaced their 20 year old buses with electrics, its a big win for the city. And the rural areas, which can then get the cities 20yo buses to replace their 40 yo buses. Suburbia is an odd mix and will sort themselves into either group as they prefer. So long as the electric bus procurement contracts are now worse than the (terrible) regular bus procurement contracts, it's all good.

Re: Cool (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437583)

You really think there are 40 year-old busses on the road carrying school children?

Trust me, that is not the case.

Re: Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46450985)

You really think there are 40 year-old busses on the road carrying school children?

Trust me, that is not the case.

Why would I trust you when google calls you a liar?

http://www.schoolbusfleet.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=19407

That's 30 seconds of searching and it turned up at least a 35yo bus in active service. I'm not suggesting that ALL buses are 40 years old, but that there are some, that run in the poor districts trapped in the $0 CAPEX budget syndrome? Yeah, I'll lay even odds on that.

Re: Cool (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 5 months ago | (#46437873)

No it can't be good. One puff of something smelly surely will impact brain development! And THIS right here is why we have scientific studies - so we can do away with shitty opinions like this.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435385)

Given how much buses cost to operate, it might be a relatively short ROI, even in California with its expensive power.

Re:Cool (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#46435651)

Especially when you add in lower maintenance costs for an electric vehicle.

Re:Cool (0)

schwit1 (797399) | about 5 months ago | (#46435863)

Please cite your source. I might agree if this were a 3rd generation vehicle with 10000+ already on the road and a proven track record.

Re:Cool (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 5 months ago | (#46435901)

It's rather speculative, but a good inference can be made simply from the vast reduction in the number of moving parts.

Re: Cool (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437593)

Are we including battery replacement in this imaginary 'reduced maintenance cost' scenario?

Re: Cool (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46444159)

Include all you want - the decrease in the number of moving parts means savings, even if battery replacement is included. Couple in with that regenerative braking, which reduces the physical wear on the vehicle massively. Batteries are highly-recycleable, and the infrastructure for that has existed for years. But if you're not ready for the 21st century, I'm sure you can find a horse somewhere to console as you two stick your fingers/hooves into your ears to try to block out the sound of progress. In the future, people will laugh at you. Think about it.

Re:Cool (2)

firex726 (1188453) | about 5 months ago | (#46436157)

Doubt there is anything for a bus like this, but if you look at a Prius there is quite a bit of data on the maintenance costs.

The rengertice breaking saves on brake pad wear, to the point that Toyota reports they don't need replacment till 100,000 miles. The Power Shift transmission has fewer gear sets, resulting in less wear on them, and has no clutch, CVT belt, or torque converter. Plus there is no timing belt, alternator, starter. And since the ICE is not running all the time it's experiences less wear and Toyota reports you don't need to replace the coolant till around the 8 year mark.

Of course this is countered by the lump sum of the battery and expensive dealership rates for when repairs are needed; but this wouldn't be a comparable factor on this kind of bus since you'd need the manufacturer to repair it regardless; and the poor MPG the old ones had would more then makeup the cost of a replacement battery years down the line.

Re:Cool (1)

bhalter80 (916317) | about 5 months ago | (#46437235)

I can see how the alternator and starter were removed and replaced with more modern components leveraging the electric assist, Keep in mind that the timing belt did not go through this kind of transformation. Instead the designers used a timing chain instead of a timing belt, this is a common design practice across ICEs and shouldn't be attributed to the electric motor.

Re: Cool (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437609)

What do you imagine a replacement battery pack will cost for a school bus? And remember, you'll be going through batteries like no one's business because school buses are run for (typically) two runs in the morning and two runs in the afternoon, requiring probably two complete charges in a 24 hour period, five days a week, 40 weeks a year...

That's a lot of batteries.

Re: Cool (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 5 months ago | (#46437745)

What do you imagine a replacement battery pack will cost for a school bus?

On the order of $0.10/Wh, by the time it matters. Modern Li cells are outlasting anyone's expectations in traction applications; they're not the weak link that you imply.

depends how you define school bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435199)

I saw a Stanford 40' shuttle bus the other day that was electric

Re: depends how you define school bus (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437613)

How many kids could you get in such a bus?

Re: depends how you define school bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46438099)

If you stack them all the way to the ceiling, a lot.

Cold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435223)

How will they combat cold in the northern cities? With combustion engines, they just idle.

Re:Cold (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#46435281)

Many EVs let you turn on the heating remotely or on a timer, so that the vehicle is warmed up while it is still plugged in and charging. Then it only needs to maintain that temperature, which requires a lot less energy. The charge process itself also generates a fair bit of heat which can be used.

Have a read of some of the EV forums. Electric cars are pretty popular in northern European countries where it gets very cold for much of the year, not least because they have this feature and tend to work more reliably than ICE cars.

Re:Cold (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 5 months ago | (#46435307)

You'd need battery warmers to weather the overnight cold, but assuming they'd be plugged in to charge during the worst overnight cold, the battery heater would be running during the lowest temperatures with the standard use procedure.

The real question is what happens if you get a cold snap in the middle of the day. Since most suburban school districts stagger the school day for elementary, middle, and junior/senior high schools to minimize the size of their bus fleets, it's quite conceivable that these things would be on the road for close to 8 hours straight without a chance to recharge in between the morning and afternoon commutes.

Re:Cold (4, Informative)

Wing_Zero (692394) | about 5 months ago | (#46435443)

Most districts have bus garages where they store their buses overnight, you typically heat that area anyways for the maintenance crew.

even if you don't heat the garage, just being in a structure will help cut some of the cold. My old pickup has a manual transmission that gets stiff in cold weather, to the point that i have to warm the engine for 10-20 minutes when the temp is under 10F just for the shifter to move right. In the garage the time is at the lower number, but, when i park outside, the higher number is more common.

at the very least, a school bus would probably be a ideal use for this type of tech. Predictable loop runs, twice a day, stored in the garage(and charging) while school is in session.

Re:Cold (1)

Wing_Zero (692394) | about 5 months ago | (#46435481)

I was responding to the first part of your post, sorry, just read the second. wow, can't believe i missed it.

My thought on that, is that they would use that bus for the shorter range routes, 100 miles, while it seems small, would probably be fine.

Re:Cold (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#46435677)

I've often wondered if combustible fuel heaters would make sense on electric vehicles. I know that seems backwards, but where ICE's are very inefficient, especially as utilized in motor vehicles, burning fuel for heat is very efficient. Also external combustion has very low emissions (other than CO2 of course).

Undoubtedly people would ridicule such an idea, complain it's no longer zero emissions (not that electric vehicles are either, depending on how the electricity is generated), blah, blah, blah, but it might make engineering sense. That's particularly true for very cold areas, because not only do you need more thermal power in such places, but heat pumps become less efficient as the temperature difference rises.

Re: Cold (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437621)

Most districts have bus garages where they store their buses overnight, you typically heat that area anyways for the maintenance crew.

No, they don't - they really, really don't.

I can't imagine a single school district that can justify the expense of such a structure - it is more cost-effective to leave them outside.

Re: Cold (1)

toddestan (632714) | about 5 months ago | (#46441637)

The local school district here in Minnesota has a small garage where they store their wheelchair-accessible buses, but the rest get to sit outside. That seems to be pretty much the norm. Each parking spot does have power though, to run the block heater that each bus is equipped with.

Kings Canyon Unified School District (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435259)

The Squaw Valley mentioned is NOT the Tahoe ski area one. This School district is south of Fresno, CA.

Do the editors even try anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435353)

I mean, the fourth word of the summary is missing. It's a six word sentence missing a seventh. Seriously?

Re:Do the editors even try anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435573)

don't worry about it they never did anyway, seriously.

Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 5 months ago | (#46435379)

Since buses are so big, seems they are a good candidate to add an on-board range extender engine, for those trips that might exceed battery range.

Also, seems they also have lots of roof surface area where PV could be installed, to also help with range, or running accessories, or charging when just parked in fleet parking lots, or at destinations.

Re:Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 5 months ago | (#46436063)

PV could be installed, to also help with range

It doesn't need any "help with range". Fleet vehicles (like school buses) are already a near-ideal case for electrification; they follow well established routes and schedules. Range is either sufficient or not, and once sufficient, the marginal value of additional range is zero.

Re: Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437627)

Unless you want to take kids on a field trip...

Re: Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 5 months ago | (#46437729)

Unless you want to take kids on a field trip...

It doesn't make any sense to optimize for outlier trips like that, unless you have money to burn. Rather, you keep a few diesel buses around.

PV is better (economically, for efficiency, and for the grid) when it's stationary and grid-connected, and range extenders negate the benefits of the simple electric powertrain (bringing back ICE maintenance). A "range extended" EV embodies the complexity of both a full-power EV and a convention internal combustion powetrain.

Re:Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 5 months ago | (#46436617)

loshwomp has already addressed the range part. I'll tackle the PV part.

Diesel has an energy density of 36 MJ/l, or 136 MJ/gallon. If you assume 12 MPG, a school bus driven 100 miles a day will consume 8.3 gallons. With a conversion efficiency of 30% (30% of the energy makes it to the pavement and moves the bus, the rest is lost as heat in the engine, transmission, and tires), that's 136 MJ/gal * 8.3 gal * 0.3 = 339 MJ of energy consumed. Or 3.4 MJ per mile.

A full-size school bus is about 2.4 meters wide by 12 meters long, so you could put about 28.8 m^2 of PV panels on top of the bus. Commercial PV panels are rated at around 135 Watts/m^2 (about 18% efficiency), 28.8 m^2 then has a peak generating capacity 3888 Watts. If the bus were driven 1 hour at noon on a sunny day, it would generate 3888 W * 3600 sec = 14 MJ. Or enough to travel 4.1 extra miles.

Capacity factor for the U.S. is about 0.145. That is, for every 1000 Watts of PV you have installed, it'll generate on average 145 Watts throughout the year after factoring in night, weather, angle of the sun, dirt on the panels between washings, etc. So those 28.8 m^2 will actually only generate 3888*0.145 = 536.8 Watts average through the day. 536.8 Watts * 1 day * 24 h/day * 3600 s/h = 36.38 MJ in a day. Or enough to move the bus 10.7 miles per day. You've paid to cover the entire top of the bus in PV panels, and over a day it's harvesting less than 11% of the energy the bus needs for its daily route.

This is what most solar proponents don't seem to get. Solar energy is very, very low density. Even if PV panels reached 100% efficiency, the dream of an electric bus driving 100 mi/day powered entirely by solar panels on its roof can't happen. Sunlight simply doesn't have enough energy density.

If you're going to go solar, you are much better off with fixed panels (either on top of buildings, or on a covering structure for the school bus parking lot). They should plug into the grid and provide electricity where it's needed. And when the the bus comes back from its route, it can plug in and get its electricity from the grid as well (from solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, gas, coal, whatever). This:
  • Combines a much larger area of PV panels while using a single voltage regulator and other electronics, reducing cost.
  • Has lower construction strength requirements since they don't need to survive constant motion, bumps, and jiggles, also reducing cost.
  • Allows the panels to contribute even if a bus happens to sit unused for several days or weeks (beyond the point where its battery is full) due to maintenance or a little thing called summer vacation.
  • Vastly simplifies maintenance as your panels are always accessible, and aren't sitting atop of things that move around and rearrange themselves a lot.
  • Vastly reduces the risk of damage, not just from vehicle accidents but from all the little rocks and pebbles which get flung up in traffic.
  • Allows you to dispose of and replace buses without losing your investment in the PV panels. The panels will probably last 2-3 decades. Buses on average are replaced after about 12 years.

PV panels on top of buses. Bad idea.

Re: Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437639)

Capacity factor for the U.S. is about 0.145. That is, for every 1000 Watts of PV you have installed, it'll generate on average 145 Watts throughout the year after factoring in night, weather, angle of the sun, dirt on the panels between washings, etc. So those 28.8 m^2 will actually only generate 3888*0.145 = 536.8 Watts average through the day. 536.8 Watts * 1 day * 24 h/day * 3600 s/h = 36.38 MJ in a day. Or enough to move the bus 10.7 miles per day.

Or you could just add 10% more batteries to the bus.

Buses have their roofs painted white to keep from baking the kids on the (un-air conditioned) bus, cover the roof with black solar panels and you'll likely need to add AC to the bus, eliminating any increase in range with energy spent running the AC cooling the kids...

Re: Add a range-extender engine, perhaps PV too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46438131)

Just paint the solar panels white! Do I have to think of everything?

hmmm.... (0, Troll)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 5 months ago | (#46435383)

I wonder how much oil and/or coal it takes to create the electricity to charge this bus everyday?

And yes, I know that CA just opened the worlds largest solar farm [independent.co.uk] , but we all know most power on the grid is still carbon-burning.

Re:hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435589)

Far less than the gas it would otherwise burn. Power plants are much more efficient than automobile engines.

Re:hmmm.... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435787)

Assuming all the energy is generated via coal, it would generate about two thirds of the carbon emissions. On one hand you have vastly improved efficiency of the power plant vs. the diesel engine. On the other hand, petrol is rich in hydrogen which burns to water, while coal is pure carbon so it will generate more CO2 for the same energy. If you use natural gas (CH4), then it drops to about half what the Diesel engine would generate.

A more realistic view would take the energy whole mix into consideration, which also includes Hydro, nuclear, renewables, etc. An even more interesting question is to think on the margin: how will the energy market react to a consistent marginal increase in consumption ? Will it add more nuclear and solar plants or will burn more coal ?

Another thing to consider is the start-stop nature of the workload: this is the environment the electric motor shines because it naturally lends to regenerative breaking. You have no idle burn at the traffic lights and no coupling inefficiency due to the discrete nature of the gearbox. The electric motor turns electricity into mechanical energy with over 90% efficiency, almost all of it moves the vehicle forward, and much of it can be recovered during breaking. These fact alone can skew the calculation by a factor of 2:1 - 3:1 in favor of the electric engine.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 5 months ago | (#46436167)

fantastic comment...why in the world would you post as AC?

+3 awesome

Braking vs. Breaking (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 5 months ago | (#46437421)

Excellent comment but I still find it grating when the word "break" gets used where "brake" is correct and vice versa.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

gabbleratchet (76134) | about 5 months ago | (#46465897)

Replying to this to undo a moderation mistake. Great post!

Re:hmmm.... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 months ago | (#46436341)

It depends on where you are. In some parts of the US, hydro and nuclear make up a very large part of grid power.

Re: hmmm.... (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437645)

Where is most electricity generated in the alternative methods you listed?

Re: hmmm.... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 months ago | (#46449345)

I'm not sure what you're asking.

In my area (upstate New York), more than 50% of electricity is made by a combination of nuclear, hydroelectric, and "other renewable". (This last is almost negligible.) The remainder is natural gas and coal, favoring natural gas.

Of course, we are one of the cleanest-electricity regions of the country. But we're not the only cleaner-electricity region. For example, parts of Tennessee get most of their electricity from hydroelectric.

Useful links:
EPA eGrid [epa.gov]
NYT article [nytimes.com] on the regional dependence of electric-vehicle cleanliness

Re:hmmm.... (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 months ago | (#46437321)

A bit more than an electric train moving the same weight and a lot less than a 1950s electric "trolleycar" or tram.
Next question?

Re:hmmm.... (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 5 months ago | (#46437409)

California at present gets less than half of its electricity from fossil fuel sources and most of that is from natural gas. According to Wikipedia in 2011 8.4% of their electricity was from coal and 36.5% was from natural gas. I can only presume based on California politics that those percentages have dropped a bit since then.

Van-Bus (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#46435531)

You can paint it yellow, but it's still a really-short bus. That might make sense for very low-density areas, but I was surprised when I needed to hire a school bus for a Scout event last year that the newer full-sized buses actually get pretty amazing mileage. At 10-15 MPG, it's terrible for a car, but when you're carrying 60+ people, that's fantastic. Especially considering you can still buy a pickup truck that gets similar mileage. I was expecting the answer to come back at "7MPG highway" or something more proportional to automotive mileage.

Kudos to the anonymous mechanical engineers who design these things. I suspect it would be really hard to build a full-sized EV bus that used less total fuel, considering the transmission and charging losses, and the fuel equivalence for the additional wealth needed to purchase such a thing.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#46435691)

newer full-sized buses actually get pretty amazing mileage. At 10-15 MPG

Wow. Seriously. Compared to what you get with cars, SUV's, etc. that seems amazing. I wonder what accounts for that fantastic efficiency compared to smaller vehicles.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46435831)

Lousy acceleration + diesel engine? Once it gets moving, you only need to power it enough to prevent friction from slowing it down, in which case I would imagine more mass would be an advantage.

Re:Van-Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46436011)

Lousy acceleration + diesel engine? Once it gets moving, you only need to power it enough to prevent friction from slowing it down, in which case I would imagine more mass would be an advantage.

You imagine wrong. Or at least phrase it wrong. Air friction's impact on mileage is basically speed squared times cross sectional area. A big bus is 2-3x as big as a car in terms of cross section while going straight, so you should expect 1/2 to 1/3 the mileage at highway speed, which is exactly what you get. Stop and go is where the mass penalty applies.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 5 months ago | (#46437429)

A buses cross sectional area may be 3 times that of a car but it's capable of carrying 8 or 10 times the number of passengers so it still wins for efficiency.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 months ago | (#46437331)

I wonder what accounts for that fantastic efficiency compared to smaller vehicles.

Seriously competing with an international market instead of assuming consumers will just buy the latest monster SUV out of Detroit.

They are trucks with a bus body. The sort of people who decide to buy them will gladly get Mercedes, Scania or whatever to build their bus body on if they can save a bit on fuel.

Re:Van-Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435945)

Don't forget how the electricity is generated, since that may not be pollution free. So many things to factor in.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 5 months ago | (#46437437)

People say this all the time but an ICE is one of the least efficient ways to generate electricity, especially in the fossil fuel genre.

Re:Van-Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46441297)

What about in cold climates? Where the heat from the engine helps warm the interior of the vehicle. And do batteries do well in cold temperatures?

Re:Van-Bus (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46444283)

As we already know the answers to both of those questions, you might want to try harder to play the "unbiased questioner". Hint: The answer to both is "just fine".

Re:Van-Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46444919)

Can I assume that i.c.e. vehicles are more efficient in cold climates?

Re:Van-Bus (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 5 months ago | (#46436125)

I suspect it would be really hard to build a full-sized EV bus that used less total fuel, considering the transmission and charging losses, and the fuel equivalence for the additional wealth needed to purchase such a thing.

I dunno. Consider how much mass school buses have, I would think you could recoup a huge amount of energy with regenerative braking alone. And unlike cars which only stop at red lights and stop signs, school buses also stop at every pickup/drop (every kid's house in rural areas) and all railroad crossings.

Re:Van-Bus (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46437859)

At 10-15 MPG, it's terrible for a car, but when you're carrying 60+ people, that's fantastic.

it's not that fantastic. I knew a dude who had a tour bus converted into an RV that would get 10+ MPG pulling two cars on a big trailer. And that's a way heavier bus. The big problem with modern buses is aerodynamics, they have none. Around town it's irrelevant. On the highway it's serious.

Re:Van-Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46451155)

" I suspect it would be really hard to build a full-sized EV bus that used less total fuel"

Keep in mind that an internal combustion engine will convert at best 35% of the energy in gasoline or diesel into forward motion of the vehicle. An electric motor will convert about 90% of the electricity input into forward motion of the vehicle.

And if you want to claim transmission and charging losses for electricity, you'll have to bring up transportation and other distribution losses for gasoline and diesel.

But this is California (0)

Chas (5144) | about 5 months ago | (#46435537)

Because the government is now not getting fuel taxes (in their eyes "losing revenues to tax dodgers"), they'll want to tax it in other ways.
Miles traveled. Number of kids ferried. ANYTHING so they can make a buck.

Re:But this is California (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435653)

Roads don't get paved for free, especially not in California. They're all out of gold.

Finally! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#46435705)

I've long thought this is an obvious application for electric vehicles, what with predictable routes and whatnot. Another one would be the small local delivery mail trucks, especially as those things are constantly stopping and starting - a very inefficient way to use an ICE, and one which puts a lot of wear on the engine.

Re:Finally! (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 5 months ago | (#46436093)

I've long thought this is an obvious application for electric vehicles, what with predictable routes and whatnot. Another one would be the small local delivery mail trucks, especially as those things are constantly stopping and starting - a very inefficient way to use an ICE, and one which puts a lot of wear on the engine.

You would seem to be [evworld.com] right about that. [usps.com]

Re:Finally! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#46436183)

Another one would be the small local delivery mail trucks, especially as those things are constantly stopping and starting

I bet they could deliver milk with one of those!

Go planet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435805)

How many decades until the busses pay for themselves? Is helping the earth really more important than using the money to fund the schools themselves?

Central Valley, Not Squaw Valley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46435977)

Kings Canyon is in the Central Valley, just southeast of Fresno. It's nowhere near Squaw Valley

Price? Cost? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 months ago | (#46435993)

Like most stories about electric busses, electric trucks and electric cars, this one includes no useful information about cost. Who thinks that without a taxpayer handout, this thing makes any economic sense to the Kings Canyon Unified School District?

Pure Pork.

Re:Price? Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46436511)

Its probably not in full production, which would certainly drive the price upwards, sure, but there does have to be a business case per mile. Yes, there are federal dollars involved, I would assume, which is typical for any technology that the government wants to develop and field. Emissions reduction would fall into that category and that is probably a good thing (unless you like the fact that the US is following the world, not leading it, in this effort).

Re:Price? Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46437863)

Why do you believe that govt makes wise decisions about which technology to promote? Do you not understand that it is not necessary for the govt to be involved in everything and that usually govt involvement retards progress rather than speeds it? Think hard about that until a CFL light bulb illuminates your thinking. The best of the best almost never work in govt.

Re:Price? Cost? (1)

romanval (556418) | about 5 months ago | (#46441235)

If you're going to think of it in those terms, even a petrol powered school bus is a "hand-out"... Since a brand new diesel-powered school bus can cost around $100K, and the school district will spend that amount (over its lifetime) for maintenance.

Needs a catchy name for PR (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46436107)

Something to do with electricity.

We'll call it the "Short Bus".

Where this school district is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46436423)

Actually, It's near Kings Canyon National Park and Fresno, not near the Squaw Valley of the Lake Tahoe region.

Photovoltaics on the roof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46436925)

2m x ~4m = 8m^2 => ~16x(0.1)kw =1.5 kw ? And it's not always moving during the day.

Re:Photovoltaics on the roof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46436949)

Correction: 0.75kw

$400K for a short bus (1)

myth24601 (893486) | about 5 months ago | (#46437239)

$400K for a short bus? Sure, it saves $11K per year on fuel costs (minus electric cost which isn't in the story) but still, a conventional bus of that size is around $50K so paying an extra $350K seems like an excessive amount for the extra greenness.

Re:$400K for a short bus (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 months ago | (#46437337)

You Americans seem to hold onto your school buses for 50 years or so, thus it's going to pay for itself eventually :)

School buses last forever + $50k, seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46437373)

There is no fucking way a bus that size is a mere $50,000.

Re:School buses last forever + $50k, seriously? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46437869)

Actually, E-Series short buses with the barest accomodations (for which most school buses would qualify) can be had new for that kind of price. You can still get a 2000 E-450 airport shuttle with a 7.3 powerstroke and a nice interior, especially compared to a school bus, for anywhere from $6k on up. Oddly, though, you can buy a used long bus with a Cummins for the same kind of money, and even at about the same age.

Anyone calculate the MPG of the bus? (1)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#46437579)

If the bus has a useful range of 80-100 miles and would otherwise consume 16 gallons to cover those 80-100 miles, that puts the MPG of the bus at between 5-6 MPG...

Seriously? They drive school buses that are THAT inefficient?

CA priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46437847)

One can always rely on CA to keep its priorities in order. The state is exacerbating a natural drought with water policies written to appease a tiny number of wacko enviro extremists, destroying its own ag business. The state is driving the movie business out of Hollywood and the state with its high taxes and onerous regulations. The state can't competently teach its children to read and write, but it is teaching grade school kids gender confusion at the behest of a fringe group of activists advocating alternative sexual lifestyles. The state is importing lawlessness with an open border attitude and sanctuary cities. The state is ten of billions in debt in large part because it gives its bloated state and local govt workforce ridiculous salaries, benefits and retirement deals. The state is hemorrhaging jobs and companies to states with more friendly business climates.

But Californians can hold their heads high and beam with pride because a city needlessly pisses away tax dollars on electric buses. Smugness won't pay the rent you fools.

Why do you still make your children rely on buses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46438271)

It may seem "green" to have a school bus running on electricity, which may (there's been some discussion about this in the comments) genuinely result in slightly lower CO2 emissions from the power plant where the electricity is produced than it would be burning diesel directly, but apart from collecting children who genuinely live a long way from school, why do you still use buses at all ?

Here in the Netherlands, almost all children cycle to school [aviewfromt...lepath.com] . I don't just mean short distances. Some ride up to 30 km (18 miles) in each direction [aviewfromt...lepath.com] to get to a school of their choice meeting their educational needs.

Don't make the mistake of thinking it's easier here. This is not a warm climate like California. It's cold here in winter. The snow which falls on the cycle-paths used by the children has to be swept clear so that they can ride to school [aviewfromt...lepath.com] .

Not only is this a good thing for the environment and for the physical health of the children (Dutch children have a very low rate of obesity) but the freedom which children have is a good part of why UNICEF rates Dutch children as having the best well-being in the world [aviewfromt...lepath.com] . American children unfortunately rate very badly by comparison. Travelling by school bus, whether powered by electricity or diesel, is a large part of the reason why.

So please look further than merely to consider which energy source to use for your buses. Your children would benefit far more from a comprehensive network of cycling infrastructure which made cycling into a safe [aviewfromt...lepath.com] , convenient [aviewfromt...lepath.com] option for them.

Interesting experiment... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | about 5 months ago | (#46438301)

It could lead to a new definition of "rolling blackout".

Great idea (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 5 months ago | (#46439407)

Predictable route, with range clearly defined, Times of use also known, recharges inbetween runs, topped up by mains at school/depot if needed. Electric/Solar buses seems like a brilliant idea

The Electric School Bus (1)

volmtech (769154) | about 5 months ago | (#46451417)

Wasn't that the show on PBS where Ms. Frizzle jumps out of the bus a yells, "HAY YOU GUYS" ?
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