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Wake County testing hybrid school bus

Posted August 17, 2007
Updated April 30, 2008

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— In the Wake County Public School System, it's known simply as Bus No. 1. But the yellow school bus is more than a number, and it's unlike most other school busses in the United States.

It is the Triangle's first plug-in hybrid electric school bus, and the Wake school system is one of 19 testing areas for the new driving technology.

Progress Energy and Duke Energy both helped International Corp. develop the plug-in hybrid system.

"It's really no different than a regular school bus," said Arthur Edgerton, who will drive the bus every day this school year and record mileage and his thoughts on how the bus performs.

Edgerton plugs the bus in to charge it overnight.

"Supplying additional power to reduce fuel is an electric motor underneath the bus," said Troy Ballard with the school system. "It also helps to lower emissions – of course, the less diesel you burn, the less pollutants you put out."

"The electric motor comes in from zero to 35. Then, at that point, your diesel will kick in," Edgerton said.

A normal bus in the fleet costs about $72,000. The price of the hybrid electrical bus is $227,000. That price will come down when, and if, it is mass-produced.

Right now, the cost savings is focused on fuel.

Edgerton said he used to fill up every other day. Now, he fills up once a week.

The new bus has been on the road two weeks. The only thing the students ask the driver about is the unique ceiling.

"The clouds on the ceiling of the bus – they represent clean air, and that's what this bus is all about."


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  • lizard Aug 18, 2007

    A bus a 3X's the cost! What will they think of next?

    How many years to break even on fuel "savings"?

    Can't get the kids to use the buses we do have. Clouds on the ceiling are gonna make them flock to the buses now??!!

  • Nancy Aug 18, 2007

    And Wake County will float a bond to buy these new hybrids...they're already short the number of buses needed, I don't see this as something they'll heavily invest in if they go to mass production, not without floating a bond.

    Heck, they're just now getting air conditioned buses, when a new bus has to be purchased, they get air conditioned buses and that only began 4 years ago. We still have better than half the fleet in buses without air conditioning.

    Nice story, but not realistic in the short term (5 years).