“Hey Otto, is this bus even on?” - future Bart Simpson to bus driver at a stop sign

Let’s rattle off a few of the complaints about electric cars: They can’t go too far without having re-charge. They’re too slow. And they get insanely good gas mileage. Oh, I guess that last one isn’t a complaint, but it’s still actually a reason WHY the school bus is a great candidate to go electric.

From the Wall Street Journal:

For one thing, [school buses] cover fairly short distances on their daily runs, rarely leaving city limits on the way to and from school. And they follow set, predictable routes. That reduces the chances of a bus accidentally running out of battery power before it finishes its route and returns to the lot.

What's more, school buses make frequent stops. While that's bad for fuel-efficiency on a conventional gasoline or diesel vehicle, electric vehicles can capture some of the energy used in applying the brakes to recharge their batteries, extending their range.

Enter the eTrans Bus. It’s more costly than traditional diesel or hybrid buses, but promises of recouping the additional cash within a few years might be enough to lure in early adopters. King’s Canyon, near Fresno, Calif., will be the one of the first school districts to test one of the buses.

If these buses are as quiet as their car counterparts, maybe kids won’t have to yell so loud, and maybe poor Otto will finally be able to take off his headphones.

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.


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