Electric school buses are rolling out across the United States as school districts look to keep their students and the communities they work in safe and free of harmful emissions. In a significant milestone, Thomas Built Buses announced Wednesday that it has delivered 200 Proterra-powered electric school buses, with the latest going to Monroe County, Indiana.

What makes Proterra-powered electric school buses special

Thomas Built Buses, a leading school bus manufacturer with over 100 years of experience, teamed up with Proterra, a commercial EV tech manufacturer, to introduce the next generation of electric school buses.

Each Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus comes equipped with 226 kWh of energy through a Proterra-powered battery system and drivetrain. The Proterra H Series battery pack is designed for commercial use with a liquid cooling system and enhanced software to ensure maximum charging and performance efficiency.

The Proterra-powered electric buses can seat up to 81 while delivering up to 138 miles in range. With over-the-air software updates and vehicle-to-grid charging capabilities, these EV buses are lightyears ahead of the traditional yellow buses we are used to.

For example, in August, Electrek reported two Jouley electric buses gave seven MWh back to the grid. Combined with the three MWh previously generated, it was enough to power around 600 homes for a day.

More recently, in September, Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner electric buses crossed 500,000 miles driven in Virginia, avoiding 447.7 short tons of greenhouse gases, according to the AFLEET tool.

Today, Thomas Built Buses achieved another major milestone by delivering its 200th Jouley electric school bus loaded with Proterra technology. Indiana’s Monroe County Public School District is celebrating as it helped play a role in getting there.

Indiana welcomes new zero-emission EV buses

The first county in Indiana state to receive a Jouley electric bus in the fall of 2022, Monroe County helped Thomas Built Buses achieve the 200-bus milestone as it received its sixth delivery of 13 zero-emission buses.

The superintendent for Monroe County Community School Corp., Dr. Jeff Hauswald, explains the benefits of school districts going electric, stating:

Beyond the long-term cost savings benefits, converting our fleet also helps us meet safety and sustainability goals set forth by school administration, reducing CO2 emissions by 27 tons and saving 1,080 gallons of diesel per bus in our fleet. With every additional bus we convert, we’re only adding to those numbers.

The school district has committed to going all-electric by 2028, including around 85 primary bus routes.

Meanwhile, Chris Baily, president of Proterra Powered & Energy, congratulated Monroe County while speaking about the company’s mission to continue rolling out zero-emissions buses to protect communities across the US, saying:

Schools across America are driving towards a clean transportation future. Proterra congratulates Monroe County schools for their leadership in the growing movement of school districts that are embracing zero-emission, all-electric school buses. Now, with 200 Proterra Powered electric school buses on the road, we look forward to helping clean the air for more schoolkids and communities throughout the country.

Electrek’s Take

Each year 450,000 school buses travel over 4.3 billion miles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even though 200 is only a fraction of the number of school buses in the United States, it’s a start.

As of August 2022, US school districts have committed to 12,720 electric school buses, according to the latest information from the non-profit research organization, the World Resources Institute (WRI).

New incentives such as the EPA Clean School Bus Program, which provides $5 billion in EV school bus funding over the next five years, should help accelerate the adoption pace in the coming years. In fact, after unprecedented initial demand during the first round, the EPA nearly doubled funding to $965 million from $500 million.

School districts are welcoming the change at this point. Now it will come down to how quickly states and school district leaders can receive funding to implement electric school buses. Proterra is committed to leading the transition with its technology paving the way for safe, zero-emission electric school buses.

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