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Pine-Richland Debuts Electric School Buses

student step off electric bus

Pine-Richland School District is taking a significant step toward sustainable transportation and has added three fully electric buses to its fleet. Student Transportation of America (STA) started transporting Pine-Richland students on two of the new 2024 CE series buses this week.


The electric buses average a range of 135 miles, and in optimal conditions, can reach 150 miles on one charge. Buses take an average of six to eight hours to charge completely.


In addition to the environmental benefits, electric school buses have the potential to save the district a considerable amount of money. CleanTechnica estimates that fueling and maintenance cost savings range from $8,000-$11,000 annually per electric bus. 


On April 26, STA hosted driver, technician and first responder training for the new buses. Drivers are excited about some of the advantages of electric buses, including faster heating of the bus itself. Since the engine does not need to heat first, the interior of the bus will start heating within a minute of turning it on. Additionally, the bus does not need to be fully turned on to heat, helping to conserve energy. 


students stand near busesSchool district representatives, including senior Julia Phillips and junior Ben Lyons, who serve as student leaders and members of the sustainability club and environmental club, were in attendance to tour one of the new buses and learn about its electric features. 


Other benefits of an electric school bus include the elimination of diesel fumes and minimal noise. They produce so little noise that an artificial humming noise was added for safety and will emit when the bus is driving at less than 20 miles per hour so that students can hear it approach. The familiar sneeze sound of the air brakes that children are accustomed to remains. The students are taught this bus safety element during their KinderCamp orientation experience and inaugural 10 minute bus ride around the neighborhood of each primary campus.


Last spring, STA announced they had received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Driving PA Forward-Truck and Bus Fleet Program to pay for the new buses. The Make Ready infrastructure was provided by Duquesne Light from their Community and Fleet Charging Program. The program includes a rebate that partially covers the cost of the charging stations.