School Board chairperson Ravi Parmar is pumped to be at the front of the province’s first electric school bus, driven by Al Kowalko on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

School Board chairperson Ravi Parmar is pumped to be at the front of the province’s first electric school bus, driven by Al Kowalko on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

All aboard the electric school bus! Students in Langford and Colwood have been riding in emission-free style since Monday on the province’s first electric school bus.

The Sooke School District board of education made the decision to buy two electric buses last year, but it was only with funding from the Ministry of Education and two grants that the wheels started rolling.

The two buses — one started running students May 3, the other will get here mid-month — plus two charging stations cost upwards of $765,000. The province contributed half the cost, a Carbon Neutral grant and a grant from the Association of School Transportation Services of BC totalled $183,000 and the board covered the remaining $232,000.

It’s a hefty upfront cost, but school board chair Ravi Parmar said they’re looking forward to long-term savings coming from the reduced maintenance needed for electric engines, and of course no fuel costs.

The electrical bill will be thicker — the buses need to charge for about six hours a night — but the district could not provide an exact cost estimation. They do expect the savings to be “substantial.” The standard diesel bus burns through 7,000 to 8,000 litres of diesel per year.

ALSO READ: New Langford schools on schedule

SD62 is the first to hit the pavement, but 12 other districts have also jumped on the e-bus train, buying a provincial total of 18 buses. The province has allocated $13 million to help with school bus purchases, including electric buses, which cost about $350,000 each compared to $150,000 for an equivalent diesel bus. There will be eight electric buses on the Island by the end of the school year.

Driver Al Kowalko is at the helm of the new bus. He says the most notable change is how quiet it is.

“You can hear the kids talking a lot more, which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good I guess,” he said with a laugh.

It’ll develop a rattle over time, he expects, but for now it’s a smooth ride.

Kowalko, who’s on his ninth year of driving buses for SD62, says they’ve been charging up between routes, but don’t really need to. The bus can go 180 kilometres on a full charge, more than enough for the route he takes.

Students on lucky route No. 3, serving Sangster, Wishart and Happy Valley Elementary, and Royal Bay and Belmont Secondary schools all got a small commemorative card that says: I rode the first electric school bus in B.C.

SD62 transportation manager Tracey Syrota hopes the fleet with be gradually electrified as buses reach the end of their life, but that will depend on the budget. The next best alternative are buses that run on propane, which Syrota says is less damaging to the environment than the diesel standard school buses use. SD62’s fleet of 50 buses already has two of these.

RELATED: Electric buses should be on the road soon in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district


Do you have a story tip? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Electric vehiclesSD62West Shore

 

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Just Posted

North Westside residents can dispose of their unwanted bulky items between June 30 and July 14, 2021. (File photo)
North Westside residents can soon get rid of unwanted bulky items

Large household items can be disposed of at North Westside Transfer Station June 30 to July 14

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read