District marks new era with ribbon cutting of first electric school bus
History was made this morning with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the first of three electric school buses commissioned for the Walla Walla Public Schools Transportation fleet. Today’s ceremony put Walla Walla Public Schools on the state map as the first school district in eastern Washington to fully commission an electric school bus to its operating fleet. The second WWPS electric bus is in Pasco completing its final inspections and the third bus is on its way to Walla Walla from the factory.
The district received an award from the Department of Ecology for its "Air Quality Clean Diesel Electric School Bus Grant” to fully fund the three electric buses and charging stations. Walla Walla Public Schools has partnered with Columbia Rural Electric Association to provide incoming power for the charging stations.
“WWPS was one of only 12 recipients across the entire state to receive the grant,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith during today’s ceremony. “Our $1,046,000 grant, accounting for over 10% of the entire funds available statewide, provided $225,000 for charging infrastructure and $821,000 for three, state of the art, all-electric buses. Additionally, while we installed this new infrastructure, we included the capacity for future growth, providing conduit and capability to install 15 additional charging stations when future grants or funding become available.”
Electric school buses lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce school operating expenses, create green manufacturing jobs, and support a more resilient grid powered by greater amounts of renewable energy. They have one-third of the moving parts of a diesel-powered bus and will require less maintenance. An electric bus can travel around 300 miles on a full charge in ideal driving conditions. A trip to Pasco in a traditional diesel bus costs approximately $75 in fuel, while the electric bus costs about $33 in electricity.
Walla Walla Public Schools will begin using the electric school bus later this school year for local bus routes. All three electric school buses will be operational next school year.