RALEIGH, N.C. — 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."