Editor: There is a lot of hype surrounding electric school busses and some concern. School districts across the country are conducting cost-benefit analysis on the impact this type of purchase will have on their fleets. While LCPS seems committed to making school transportation a healthier experience for students and parents, here is my question – on what criteria was the decision made to purchase two more electric school busses?
Was the decision based on decarbonization? I doubt it, because a recent comparative analysis: Decarbonization of MD-HD Vehicles with Propane analyzed the carbon footprint of medium-duty and heavy-duty engine vehicles powered by propane and electricity. This study found propane-fueled internal combustion engines created a lower carbon footprint in 38 U.S. states (including Virginia) and Washington, D.C., when compared to electric vehicles.
Assuming both vehicles are medium duty, run for about 200 miles a day, 60,000 miles a year and 300,000 miles in its lifetime, an electric vehicle may seem greener, but remember, those batteries need to be charged and replaced. When the emissions from these two processes are calculated, the numbers show that a propane medium duty vehicle will lead to 68 tons lower CO2 emissions than an electric vehicle in the state of Virginia.
Furthermore, the medium duty electric school bus costs the taxpayers roughly $360,000 each. Not to mention, the average battery for an electric bus costs $18,000 and has a lifespan of 12 years. The average cost of installation for a charging station for 10 electric vehicles comes at a $250,000 price tag for taxpayers. On the other hand, a propane powered bus costs $110,000 and only costs taxpayers an additional $40,000 to refuel multiple propane-powered vehicles.
Moreover, electric busses are not more efficient than propane powered busses. The average range of a fully charged electric bus is 110 miles on a perfect day. If the temperature is too hot or too cold those miles will be limited. A propane powered bus range is over 400 miles per full tank, in any weather.
Lastly, there are 14 school districts in Virginia using propane powered school busses – including 96 busses in Newport News, 79 in Chesterfield, 60 in Virginia Beach and even six in service at The Potomac School in McLean.
While I am not advocating for our school district to purchase propane-powered school busses, I am concerned the decision to purchase additional electric busses is being foisted upon us by special interests who do not care that the environmental, financial and efficiency consequences are not in the best interest of our residents. As with any major purchase, we should always have a direct goal in mind and perform the necessary independent research and analysis to determine that our action will impact our objective. I have concerns that we may have not conducted due diligence in this decision.
Nick Clemente, Leesburg
[Editor’s Note: The writer is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 10th District House of Delegates race.]