Carmel unveils first all-electric school bus in state

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Ron Farrand cautions Carmel Clay Schools students to be at the bus stop on time this school year.

That’s because CCS will be getting one all-electric bus, and Ferrand said students won’t hear it coming.

“It’s quiet. It’s a different kind of animal coming down the road,” said Ferrand, CCS director of facilities and transportation.

The bus will be used on the morning and afternoon routes and will rotate through different routes during the school year.

“So, we’ll get some exposure through the community,” Ferrand said.

CCS held a ribbon cutting June 24 at its transportation center to celebrate having the first all-electric bus on school grounds in the state. CCS is one of four districts to get a Blue Bird bus for the 2020-21 school year. The other school districts are Bartholomew, Monroe and Delphi, but the bus for CCS arrived first.

“This is exciting news for the city. It will help the air quality in Carmel,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “Unfortunately, we are northeast of the city of Indianapolis, so a lot of prevailing winds bring a lot of bad air this way. Everything we do can help make a difference, particularly with people’s health.”

Ferrand said CCS has been pursuing alternative fuel for its buses since 2015 and already has 24 buses using propane autogas in its fleet. Ferrand said he was excited when he learned the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund, administered by the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, would help provide funding.

The bus, which was built by manufacturer Blue Bird and powered by the Cummins PowerDrive system, emits zero emissions of harmful substances such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds and hydrocarbons, so Ferrand said it’s safer for the neighborhoods and the students riding on the bus.

Ferrand said its bus, which is bus No. 1 because the slot was open, can travel more than 100 miles without charging. Although not necessary, the bus will charge between the morning and afternoon routes.

The district installed two charging stations, one at its east side lot and one at its bus garage, to allow the bus to recharge in the same location where maintenance tasks are performed. Maintenance on a Blue Bird electric bus is minimal, which eliminates the need for conventional fuel, air filters and transmission service.

South Shore Clean Cities developed and submitted the successful grant application and serves as project manager for the electric school bus project. Data collected from CCS and the other three school districts will determine if other school districts will want to add to their fleet.




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