School districts across the province are adding an electric bus to their fleets. Photo: News.gov.bc.ca/flickr.com

School districts across the province are adding an electric bus to their fleets. Photo: News.gov.bc.ca/flickr.com

Electric school buses at what cost?

Letter to the Editor from Robin Siddall of Warfield

I read with interest the article “SD20 adds electric bus” in the Trail Times of June 15.

I take it I was supposed to be overjoyed to see that my grandchildren will soon be having a quieter and smoother ride to and from school.

I further assume that I was also meant to be overjoyed given reduced greenhouse gas emissions and that all is right with the world.

However what I really got was the expectation that electric buses will result in a decline in quality of education in exchange for a quiet bus ride which I have trouble equating as a good thing.

I must admit that I am not really up on a diesel versus electric cost comparisons so it would have been helpful to see a more complete comparison.

I didn’t see anywhere the capital cost of an electric bus compared to a diesel?

I also did not see how many diesel buses there are in the school district that the School Board expects to replace?

These would have been helpful stats.

I did see that oil change and brake maintenance savings for the one bus will be “as much as $10,000 over its lifespan.”

I didn’t see a lifespan comparison and didn’t see any costs for battery replacement.

Does the term “as much as” suggest this is an optimistic maintenance figure and the article could just as easily have read “as little as zero?”

I didn’t see whether the 220-km range on a full charge was a local statistic or one coming from California?

Further, I didn’t see any statistics on how many kids will no longer be made sick riding diesel buses.

“Healthier future” is a somewhat nebulous term and seems to imply that the kids should not be riding diesel buses today?

Without additional information, it would seem to me that converting to electric buses will be a major blow to the SD20 school budget.

It was indicated that the B.C. Ministry of Education provided funding help but there was no indication of how much help was provided.

Irregardless, the sceptic in me suggests that that the Ministry will find ways to reduce other areas of school budgets to offset such “help.”

So the question I have is “what is the total additional cost of electric school buses and how will the kids and their education be paying for them?”

I could suggest, tongue slightly in cheek, that if the School Board expects a decline in education due to electric buses then an answer might be to simply adjust the curriculum.

Teach the kids that this is all in the name of saving the world from global warming and that they should be thankful.

If I have this all wrong, it is perhaps because I am an aging retiree and I am in need of further education on the costs of electric school buses and the perils of global warming.

So I look forward to seeing a follow-up article showing how this will no impact on our education system.

Robin Siddall

Warfield

Letter to the Editor