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Members of the GSD Transportation Department stand among four school buses.
GSD Communicator

In addition to a fleet of 28 new air-conditioned school buses, the district’s transportation department has added two new electric (EV) buses. 

GSD Transportation Director Benji Britt said the new EV buses arrived free of charge to the district through a federal EPA grant. 

The EV buses have been employed to run short routes in town and have performed exceedingly well.The daily energy expenses are estimated to be about $5 a day less than traditional diesel fuel, and if those savings hold true, that could add up over time. 

The daily commute to school recently got a lot more comfortable — and quieter — for students at Grenada School District. 

In addition to a fleet of 28 new air-conditioned school buses, the district’s transportation department has added two new electric (EV) buses. 

GSD Transportation Director Benji Britt said the new EV buses arrived free of charge to the district through a federal EPA grant. 

Britt confessed that he had no interest in acquiring electric buses initially. The vehicles only traveled 150 miles on a charge, and he was worried the buses wouldn’t meet the district’s needs with long rural routes and trips to various parts of the state. 

However, the EV buses have been employed to run short routes in town and have performed exceedingly well.The daily energy expenses are estimated to be about $5 a day less than traditional diesel fuel, and if those savings hold true, that could add up over time. 

“Of course, I don’t know how to measure the carbon footprint of these buses,” Britt said, “but I do love nature and want to do everything I can to preserve it for future generations.”

The grant also provided a charging station, which the district installed in consultation with the city and Entergy. The charging station also acts as a diagnostic tool, according to Britt, providing information about the buses’ health and battery status.

One of the most interesting things the department has discovered about the EV buses is how much quieter the children are. “You don’t realize how much the students are trying to talk over the engine,” Britt said. “It is a much more peaceful environment just because of the noise alone, either the mechanical noise created by the bus or the interior noise created by the conversation.”

Britt said it’s strange to be standing near the bus, which emits no engine noise, and in the interest of safety, his team installed a noise maker on each bus that emits a sound similar to a high-pitched static whine when the vehicle drops below five miles per hour. 

The EV buses, along with the new diesel buses, are air-conditioned and have radios installed. “It’s amazing what a calming effect the radio has,” Britt said. “We’ve had a lot of positive input about all the new additions in the transportation department. Unfortunately we have not gotten every route in an air-conditioned bus, but we are working very hard within the next three years to have every route air-conditioned.”

Before the new arrivals, the average age of the district’s buses was 21 years with an average of 275,000 miles. The transportation department kept the fleet in good repair, but it was imperative to start trading up. “We’re currently looking at very few issues with our buses,” Britt said.