Colton Unified School District east of Los Angeles is joining a growing number of student transporters in testing ZEVs as it prepares to employ two Type-C, all-electric school buses from Creative Bus Sales and Starcraft into route service this month.
The Starcraft eQuest XL school buses displayed this summer at industry conferences such as the STN EXPO feature all-electric powertrains from Motiv Power Systems, who also provides the electric system for the Trans Tech SSTe Type-A school bus.
The Starcraft all-electric buses are built on a Ford F59 chassis and are expected to have a range of 85 miles when fully charged. A Motiv spokeswoman said the Quest XL does not use lithium-ion batteries, “so they’re not prone to spontaneous fires like we’ve seen in phones.”
Motiv said the Starcraft Quest XL can cut operating costs by 85 percent as the electric powertrains eliminate fuel usage while also reducing maintenance costs by 66 percent. The spokeswoman said school districts can expect ROI in “roughly six years.”
The new buses also offer flexible seating options for lap-shoulder seat belts, accommodate up to eight wheelchairs, provide a maximum capacity of 48 passengers, and “are so silent that bus drivers will have to give a friendly honk when they arrive so kids don’t miss the bus,” the spokeswoman added.
Joe Angeli of Creative Bus Sales, which provides vehicle service support to Colton Unified, said the Motiv electric powertrain is giving Creative's eQuest XL school bus “unprecedented performance previously uncharacteristic of electric buses.”
“The hill climbing power and acceleration provided by the electric powertrain gives these buses a driving experience consistent with standard buses creating a safer driving environment for the buses and the children they transport,” he added.
Meanwhile, Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz reminded that the ZEV school buses are environment-friendly.
“As a father, I'm thrilled that Motiv can help families, disadvantaged communities and schools access zero-emission solutions that protect our children from harmful, cancer-causing pollutants,” he added.
Colton Unified purchased the two buses in part through grants from the California Energy Commission and the South Coast Air Quality Management District made possible by the state's cap and trade funds. The California Highway Patrol has already certified the two buses, and the district said they will start route service in the next couple of weeks.
A voice message and an email left with the district's transportation department seeking information on driver training on the new electric buses had yet to be returned at this report.