A zero-emissions electric school bus stopped by the Lansing Center on Wednesday for the Michigan Association of Pupil Transportation’s annual conference and trade show.
The bus is manufactured in Quebec by a company called Lion. It’s on a four-state tour launched by Charge Up Midwest, a partnership of seven Midwest environmental groups.
Janet McCabe is Senior Law Fellow at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, one of the Charge Up Midwest groups.
She says electric buses are quiet, they save money on fuel and maintenance, and hold up well in cold weather because they’re built from a carbon fiber that doesn’t corrode. But the most important thing is the impact they have on the young passengers.
“The impact it has on them is zero air pollution, and diesel pollution is one of the things we know has had adverse health effects, especially on kids with asthma. One in ten kids in this country has asthma. In urban areas it can be as high as one in three or even one in two children. That's a lot of kids.”
One bus costs about $300,000. Compare that to a regular Diesel bus, which is around $100,000, but requires fuel and maintenance.
So, could Michigan afford to buy some of these buses? Environmental groups say yes, because the state is expected to receive $65 million dollars from Volkswagen settlement funds. Volkswagen was ordered to set up the funds after installing devices in diesel vehicles that cheated federal emissions tests.
And the state of Michigan has already proposed that half of that money be set aside for cleaner school buses.
Schools in New England, Canada, and California are already using electric buses. Janet McCabe says there's a lot of interest in this technology in Michigan, and even a possibility for the buses to be manufactured in the state.