BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools' new electric bus ran its first route Tuesday for students at Silver Rail Elementary.
Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook says the district is proud to join the move toward clean transportation with the first EV school bus operating east of the Cascades, “To finally have it here out in the routes, and actually serving the kids of our school district in our community is just such a great day for us. We’re really excited. It represents so much of what we’re committed to in this community.” Dr. Cook says the goal is to secure more funding for additional buses.
The school district and The Environmental Center collaborated for more than 3 years to apply for the $157,500 grant to purchase the bus. The Environmental Center’s Neil Baunsgard tells KBND News the bus is a teaching tool, “Bend-La Pine School District is planning on rotating this bus around, so different schools get to experience it, different drivers get to experience it. We can really learn all that we can from this bus, and be able to share those experiences with other districts in the region.”
There was production delay for the bus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the district’s Director of Transportation Kim Crabtree says it was worth the wait, and gets BLS closer to its environmental goals, “We’re continuing to explore low-emissions or no-emissions buses. Currently we’re at over 50% propane and then a mix of diesel and gas. So, bringing on this first electric bus is exciting.”
The electric school bus was also the first bus supported, in part, with Public Purpose Charge funds. The Public Purpose Charge program, administered by the Oregon Department of Energy, is funded through the state’s two largest electric utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power.