West Virginia Participates In All-Electric School Bus Pilot Project

GreenPower Motor Company’s pilot project will deploy all-electric school buses in three West Virginia counties starting this week.

electric vehicle
Cabell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ryan Saxe takes delivery of a GreenPower BEAST all-electric, purpose-built school bus. Joining him are Rhonda Smiley, President of the Cabell County Board of Education; Kim Cooper, Assistant Superintendent; Dan Gleason, Director of Transportation; GreenPower Vice President Mark Nestlen and GreenPower’s dealer representative Steve Ellis. (Photo: GreenPower Motor Company)

GreenPower Motor Company Inc. launched its West Virginia state pilot project to demonstrate all-electric school buses in school transportation operations across West Virginia starting with Cabell, Kanawha, and Mercer counties. The first buses in each county will be deployed this week, bringing school children safely to their school without contamination from NOx emissions.

Through the pilot project done in cooperation with Governor Jim Justice, the West Virginia Department of Economic Development and the West Virginia Department of Education, three all-electric GreenPower Type D BEAST school buses were deployed in the first three counties, along with the required charging infrastructure. In the coming weeks, a fourth pilot bus using the Type A Nano BEAST with ADA capabilities will be deployed in Clay County.

“West Virginia is a perfect location for the first true pilot project of all-electric, purpose-built, zero-emission school buses,” said Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower. “The terrain, weather conditions, and the combination of rural and urban settings will give a real-life demonstration of the school buses’ capabilities. The only way for school districts to become comfortable with the new technology is through hands-on experience.”

In June, Gov. Jim Justice directed his Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael to work with GreenPower to develop a pilot project to provide real-world testing of the vehicles in areas of the state, both rural and urban, and to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with using all-electric school buses to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective school transportation.

Each county will test the electric buses for a six-week period and then each all-electric school bus will move to a different county to demonstrate the buses in different parts of the state. The data collected by the pilot project will not only be beneficial to West Virginia, but also to schools across the nation—it will help school districts understand more about EV school buses as they look to deploy them in their fleets on a permanent basis.

Among some of the data that will be collected is: range, charging infrastructure needs, handling and maneuverability, operating and maintenance savings, student and parent acceptance, and more.

There are 55 public school districts in the state of West Virginia. According to the most recent School Bus Fleet Fact Book there are approximately 2,900 school buses in operation in the state transporting approximately 220,000 K-12 public students daily representing 75% of the total students enrolled making it the 10th highest school rate in the nation. The school buses today consist only of traditional propulsion systems and presently there are no electric school buses in operation in the state.

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