School Board chairperson Ravi Parmar is pumped to be at the front of the province’s first electric school bus, driven by Al Kowalko on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

School Board chairperson Ravi Parmar is pumped to be at the front of the province’s first electric school bus, driven by Al Kowalko on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

All aboard the electric school bus! Students in Langford and Colwood have been riding in emission-free style since Monday on the province’s first electric school bus.

The Sooke School District board of education made the decision to buy two electric buses last year, but it was only with funding from the Ministry of Education and two grants that the wheels started rolling.

The two buses — one started running students May 3, the other will get here mid-month — plus two charging stations cost upwards of $765,000. The province contributed half the cost, a Carbon Neutral grant and a grant from the Association of School Transportation Services of BC totalled $183,000 and the board covered the remaining $232,000.

It’s a hefty upfront cost, but school board chair Ravi Parmar said they’re looking forward to long-term savings coming from the reduced maintenance needed for electric engines, and of course no fuel costs.

The electrical bill will be thicker — the buses need to charge for about six hours a night — but the district could not provide an exact cost estimation. They do expect the savings to be “substantial.” The standard diesel bus burns through 7,000 to 8,000 litres of diesel per year.

ALSO READ: New Langford schools on schedule

SD62 is the first to hit the pavement, but 12 other districts have also jumped on the e-bus train, buying a provincial total of 18 buses. The province has allocated $13 million to help with school bus purchases, including electric buses, which cost about $350,000 each compared to $150,000 for an equivalent diesel bus. There will be eight electric buses on the Island by the end of the school year.

Driver Al Kowalko is at the helm of the new bus. He says the most notable change is how quiet it is.

“You can hear the kids talking a lot more, which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good I guess,” he said with a laugh.

It’ll develop a rattle over time, he expects, but for now it’s a smooth ride.

Kowalko, who’s on his ninth year of driving buses for SD62, says they’ve been charging up between routes, but don’t really need to. The bus can go 180 kilometres on a full charge, more than enough for the route he takes.

Students on lucky route No. 3, serving Sangster, Wishart and Happy Valley Elementary, and Royal Bay and Belmont Secondary schools all got a small commemorative card that says: I rode the first electric school bus in B.C.

SD62 transportation manager Tracey Syrota hopes the fleet with be gradually electrified as buses reach the end of their life, but that will depend on the budget. The next best alternative are buses that run on propane, which Syrota says is less damaging to the environment than the diesel standard school buses use. SD62’s fleet of 50 buses already has two of these.

RELATED: Electric buses should be on the road soon in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district


Do you have a story tip? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Electric vehiclesSD62West Shore

 

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Just Posted

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read