There are a ton of benefits to choosing an electric vehicle instead of a traditionally fueled one. They range from smaller details like a smoother and quieter ride to overarching pros like their ability to help combat climate change. After all, that’s the main selling point for most people: Electric vehicles don’t emit any of the harmful chemicals that their diesel-powered counterparts do, making them much more environmentally friendly. This technology isn’t limited to cars — it can be utilized in all kinds of vehicles, including school buses. Electric Blue Bird-manufactured buses are increasingly popular among school districts, and that popularity is likely to keep growing in the coming years.
Although electric vehicles are the way of the future, not everyone is on board with making the switch. Here, we’re going to debunk eight pervasive myths surrounding electric school buses with a focus on our preferred manufacturer, Blue Bird. Some of them are more well-known than others, but even if you’re fairly familiar with this technology, there’s plenty to learn about electric Blue Bird buses along the way.
We’ll start with one of the more basic and more problematic myths.
1. Not enough range
It’s a nightmare scenario that might come to mind when you’re considering a Blue Bird electric bus: Running out of a charge halfway through the route, leaving a bus full of students stranded. However, that nightmare is very unlikely to become reality.
An electric Blue Bird school bus can go up to 120 miles on a full charge. This is well above the average school bus route, and if necessary, buses can even be charged during the day before the afternoon drop off duty begins. So, unless your bus routes are extraordinarily long, an electric Blue Bird bus definitely has the range to reliably complete it.
We’ll cover more details about charging your Blue Bird electric bus in later sections, but for now, just know that a single, overnight charge will be plenty for the demands of most school bus routes. You shouldn’t have to worry about running out of charge before all the students are home safe.
2. Bad weather will wipe them out
The underlying belief with this myth is that electric buses are not as tough as traditional, combustion-fueled buses. People tend to think that their electric Blue Bird options are not as durable as the other kinds of buses they could be buying instead, but that’s simply not true.
Due to the manufacturer’s long-standing, high-quality output, you won’t have to worry about the performance of a Blue Bird electric bus. There are some weather conditions that would cause issues for any vehicle, of course, but electric buses can definitely run well in a variety of weather conditions. They should be able to complete their routes just fine.
It’s not true that electric vehicles are more finicky or harder to deal with than their traditional fuel counterparts. We’ll discuss how low maintenance electric Blue Bird buses really are in another section. Here, it’s enough to say that inclement weather (short of anything too extreme, of course) won’t be a big issue for your bus.
3. Electric buses don’t suit rural areas, only urban ones.
Electric vehicles may have a reputation for being popular with coastal cities, but that’s not the only place where a Blue Bird electric bus can be supremely useful. Many rural school districts make great use of electric school buses.
As we pointed out in the previous section, a Blue Bird electric bus is every bit as rugged as its more traditional counterparts. They can handle the demands of a rural route. And although it’s true that you’re more likely to find electric vehicle chargers in a city, an electric school bus should only ever need the chargers you install where you store them. They should be able to complete their route on a single charge. So, you don’t need to rely on a city’s infrastructure to support an electric Blue Bird school bus. That means they’re good fits for all different kinds of areas, including rural ones.
4. Maintenance is too hard
A Blue Bird electric bus is certainly going to have different maintenance needs from a traditional diesel bus, but that doesn’t mean that the maintenance is more difficult. Electric Blue Bird school buses actually require less maintenance than other types of buses.
Finding a technician who’s experienced with electric buses might seem like a tall order at first. However, this is a growing field, and once the professional has trained in the technology, you probably won’t even need their expertise very often. We’ll dive deeper into the maintenance cost savings of Blue Bird electric school buses in the next section, but for now, just know that their traditionally fueled counterparts tend to require a lot more work.
This is all to say that there might be a bit of a learning curve or initial difficulty with making sure the buses are properly maintained, but you can mitigate that concern quickly.
5. They’re too expensive
The initial cost of a Blue Bird electric bus is more than it would be for a traditional fuel, that much is true. However, once you factor in the maintenance costs over the life of the bus, the electric option starts looking a lot more budget-friendly.
As we pointed out in the previous section, there are actually fewer maintenance needs when it comes to an electric bus. That will save you in the long run. There are lots of costs associated with traditional fuel sources that you’ll never have to worry about again when you make the switch to electric. With an electric Blue Bird, you have a lot fewer moving parts and fluids, all of which need regular maintenance in a conventional fuel engine.
6. Charging is inconvenient
Sure, you’re going to have to add chargers to the place where you store your fleet. However, that’s a one-time addition that will bring you lots of convenience over the years of owning Blue Bird electric buses. You’ll have all the chargers you need after installation, and the buses can be charged overnight while there’s low demand for electricity. This makes it less of a strain on the power grid and might help save money, as well.
The thing about progress is that it may be difficult to begin. To move forward, there may be a learning curve, but it’s worth it, though, when you look at the long-term environmental friendliness and cost savings that building up electric vehicle infrastructure will bring.
As long as you keep charging in mind when you set out to upgrade to electric buses, you should reap all the benefits down the line. Just make sure you’re doing your research and you’ll have all the necessary infrastructure in place beforehand. In order to accurately measure how much electricity you’re using and how much money you’re saving from switching to electric buses, you’ll need the appropriate meters.
Long story short, if you plan the charger installation meticulously, they won’t be inconvenient down the road.
7. To go electric, you need to buy a brand-new bus
Securing funding for a Blue Bird electric bus can be difficult. School districts tend to have tight budgets, and new buses aren’t always in the cards. If that rings true for your situation, you might think that electric school buses are completely off the table, but that’s not the case.
It’s possible to retrofit an existing school bus to be electric-powered. So, if you’re convinced of the other benefits of adding an electric Blue Bird to your fleet, you might look at your existing options instead of a brand-new one. This process is not the right fit for every school district for sure, but it’s one to keep in mind if a new bus would be prohibitively expensive. There are lots of ways to fund bringing more sustainable technology into your fleet without springing for brand-new vehicles.
8. They’re not reliable
We’ve already pretty much debunked this one in addressing the typical maintenance for a Blue Bird electric bus and also that these vehicles can definitely stand up to some extreme weather, but it deserves its own point for being such a pervasive myth. Lots of folks are under the impression that electric school buses won’t withstand heavy use and are more delicate than other options.
This is far from the truth. As we’ve explained, electric Blue Bird buses are tough and reliable workhorses for your fleet. They perform in rural areas as well as cities, and they can drive through intense weather conditions as well (within reason, of course). This makes them plenty reliable for many school districts across the country.
An Overview of Electric Blue Bird School Buses
Now that you’ve got accurate information about the benefits of switching your school bus fleet to electric, let’s get into the details of what makes Blue Bird electric buses the best choice in the industry. This manufacturer is the best in the industry, and their electric options are no different. Read on to learn more about the different kinds of electric school buses you can choose between.
All American EV
The first electric Blue Bird you might go for is the All American. It’s a Type D school bus that can hold up to 84 passengers. Other important features include air brakes and a Cummins drive-train. With a range of 120 miles, this type of Blue Bird electric bus should be able to go at least a full route before it needs to be recharged. When they do need to fuel up, that takes about eight hours. They also have a fast charge feature that can be completed in closer to three hours, if necessary.
If you already know and love traditional transit-style buses from Blue Bird, this more eco-friendly option is sure to be a hit.
The Vision EV is very similar to the All American EV that we just detailed, except it’s a Type C school bus with a maximum capacity of 77. Other than those differences, most of the features and selling points remain the same. The long, 120-mile range, the fast charging times, and all the reliability and quality you can always count on Blue Bird to deliver — it’s all there.
Micro Bird EV
For smaller groups, a more modest electric Blue Bird bus is in order. The Micro Bird EV could be the perfect choice. It features a maximum capacity of 30, so it’s not the kind of bus you’d choose to maximize the number of passengers. Instead, it’s a great little option for applications where you don’t need to be transporting as many people. All the benefits of a Blue Bird electric bus also apply here, too, and this model also features hydraulic brakes.
This kind of electric school bus could be the perfect fit for a pilot program with fewer students. Converting the entire fleet to electric power is the ultimate goal for many environmental activists, so don’t overlook the smaller options.
Add a Blue Bird Electric Bus to your fleet!
Now that you know the truth about electric school buses, you should be ready to add the technology to your school district’s fleet. You’re fully equipped to dismantle the misinformation some of your colleagues might believe, and you can use this information to make your school district’s fleet more efficient and eco-friendly. There are tons of reasons to buy an electric Blue Bird school bus, and if you can get started with a pilot program, you can start moving toward all of those benefits.
If you’re looking for an electric Blue Bird bus to add to your fleet, start your search right here at Central States Bus. We have locations in Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas, and we’d be excited to help you find the right Blue Bird electric bus for your fleet. Don’t hesitate to reach out — we look forward to hearing from you!