BEVERLY, MA — The Beverly school bus fleet is going electric.
At least, that's the long-term plan after the city took the first step toward that goal with the unveiling of its first electric-battery school bus on Thursday. The plan is to eventually transition all 27 buses in the fleet from diesel fuel to electric-battery power.
"Beverly is incredibly thrilled to have our first all-electric school bus," Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill said. "We are proud to be one of the first communities in Massachusetts to acquire an electric school bus and to begin transitioning our fleet from diesel to electric. This bus produces zero emissions which creates a healthier environment four the students and residents."
The city said that, in addition to offering zero emissions, the buses offer greater efficiency with fuel cost savings and lower maintenance costs over time. The new buses also offer students wireless internet and an enhanced ventilation system — particularly important amid the coronavirus health crisis and typical influenza seasons.
"I’ve been in the pupil transportation business for many years and last week was one of the most exciting days in my career to see the first all-electric school bus drive into our bus depot," Beverly Public Schools Director of Transportation Dana Cruikshank said. "We're thrilled to have the electric school bus in our fleet and to start retiring the diesel buses."
Beverly submitted a proposal for funds to lease the electric bus from Highland Electric Transportation of Hamilton last summer. Last month, the city was designated to receive a second bus in the pilot program through funds awarded to Highland.
The second bus is likely to arrive early next year.
"We are excited to partner with Beverly as they transition to an all-electric school bus fleet," said Duncan McIntyre, CEO of Highland Electric Transportation. "Mayor Cahill is a pioneer in renewable energy and electrification of transportation, and he and his team are setting a terrific example for other cities and towns."
The Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley offers up to 134 miles of drive range and can "fast charge" in about three hours.
"We applaud the City of Beverly for leading the way to an all-electric future of pupil transportation," said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. "Along with our partner, Proterra, Thomas Built Buses is proud to provide Beverly with the buses and expertise for making the transition to an electric school bus fleet."
National Grid, the electric utility provider, is a key stakeholder in this project.
"Clean transportation is key to fighting climate change," said Badar Khan, President of National Grid, US. "All children deserve to breathe clean air and travel to school without compromising their health. We will work with Beverly Public Schools to replace more diesel school buses with clean electric buses. We want to help other school districts do the same."
Related Patch Coverage: Beverly To Get Second Electric Battery School Bus Through Grant