The Snoqualmie Valley School District will be adding its first electric school bus to its fleet. The bus looks like the rest of the fleet, except it’s a little quieter.
It’s so quiet in fact, a press release from the district states, that it’s equipped with fake noise so people can hear it while it’s travelling under 20 mph. It also has a green bird with a power cord emblem on the top of the roof near the driver’s window.
Besides issuing zero emissions, the bus has a strong engine that requires less maintenance than fossil fueled buses. In hilly terrain, the bus can travel up to 92 miles, but has a maximum range of 120 miles in flatter areas. For severe weather, the electric bus has automatic chains and sanders like the rest of the fleet. It is also equipped with a strobe light to provide higher visibility in the fog, hard rain or snowstorms, the press release states. A free charging station for the bus was obtained through a grant from Puget Sound Energy.
The electric bus was made possible with a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology stemming from the Volkswagen settlement with the federal government as part of the Clean Air Act. The district received $300,000 towards the bus, and the district is contributing the remaining $100,000, roughly the same amount the district would have spent on a gas-powered bus.
As required by the grant, the district will decommission an older diesel bus, which was donated to the Snoqualmie Fire Department to be used for emergency training. The diesel bus was disabled on March 31.
Drivers will begin training using the new electric bus around the district in coming weeks. It will also be present at the upcoming Snoqualmie Valley School District Transportation Recruiting event on June 9, beginning at 5 p.m. at Mount Si High School’s new bus loop in front of the school’s main entrance. Residents will have the chance to see and board the new bus.
The district is also hiring bus drivers, who will receive paid training over the summer at a rate of $18.35 an hour, plus sign-on bonuses up to $1,000. Starting bus driver wages are $26.13 an hour with benefits.