LUDOWICI – Long County students are riding in quiet comfort, thanks to their new buses.
The Long County School System unveiled its 10 new electric-powered buses last week, and Wednesday is their scheduled first day on the road to take students to and from school. And without the big diesel motors, the buses run at a much lower decibel level.
The buses were provided to the school system through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Bus Initiative.
“It’s just a great opportunity for us to get 10 new buses at no cost to the Long County taxpayers,” said Superintendent David Edwards.
So far, they’ve gotten the seal of approval from the bus drivers.
“They like them,” schools transportation director Darrell Mosley said. “They’re very, very quiet. They accelerate smoothly and there is a lot of technology on them.”
There is a regenerative braking so that when a driver lets off the accelerator, it uses the same engine to recharge the batteries.
The buses average getting 130 miles per charge, Mosley said, and the average route for a school bus is 20 miles.
“Some are considerably longer than that, and some are shorter,” Mosley added.
The school system is taking the 10 buses being replaced out of use. But as part of the grant, the diesel motors have to be removed and destroyed.
Buses being taken out of service are up to 27 years old, Edwards noted. The school system has 62 total buses and 46 on routes each school day.
There are five charging stations at the Long County bus barn, and each station has two chargers. To take a bus from zero to full charge can take 24 hours, Dan Miller of Miller Electric said, but buses returning to the charging stations likely will have some level of charge remaining.
“You can adjust times and chargers,” he said. “It’s a very integrated system.”
Mosley began looking into the program before he came to Long County, as the EPA and U.S. Department of Education sent out information for anyone interested in getting electric buses.
“It piqued my interest, and when I came here to Long, Mr. Edwards said, ‘jump on it,’” Mosley said. “We put in for the grant and we were approved.”
Mosley also extended his gratitude to partners Miller Electric, Canoochee EMC and IC BUS/International.
“Without these partners, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said.