Escondido to test out all-electric school bus

Its price tag is $280,000

ESCONDIDO - While it might look like a regular school bus, you can't hear it approaching from several blocks away.

This week, Escondido Unified High School District volunteered to be the first to try out an all-electric school bus for a period of one month.

The bus was created by TransPower, a Poway-based company. It is not cheap. Right now, it comes in at a cost of $280,000. A regular school bus costs half that, $140,000. However, engineers say that the high cost would drop dramatically once it is mass-produced.  They also say there are serious long-term financial advantages.

Each bus would save districts about $10,000 annually in fuel costs and another $5,000 in maintenance savings, engineers say. The buses would not need oil changes and the brakes would last much longer.  

 “That's essentially going to save us a lot of money down the road, and it's going to be great for the environment,” said Mike Simonson, assistant superintendent for business services for Escondido Union High School.

Another upside is that the buses have zero emissions or harmful pollutants.

“So every day that students and the operator ride on this bus they get on and get off with cleaner lungs,” said Mike Simon, TransPower president and CEO.  

Simon cautions that the bus is still years away from being ready for prime time. At best, it can only travel about 60 miles before needing to be re-charged. Ideally, engineers would have to increase that number into the hundreds.

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