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Oregon’s first all-electric school buses are now on the road

The Beaverton and Reynolds school districts are using the first electric school buses, helping the environment and saving thousands in maintenance.

BEAVERTON, Ore. — The ride to and from school is getting a futuristic, good for the environment, upgrade for some students in Oregon. A Portland General Electric (PGE) grant is helping five Oregon school districts bring new all-electric buses to their fleets.  

2020 was the first year of the PGE Electric School Bus Fund. It funded five school districts for a total of six electric school buses. Three of those buses are on the road right now. Beaverton School District got the first two, Reynolds School District has the third… and more will be on the road later this year.   

“It’s reducing those tailpipe emissions and just eliminating that all together so that our children don’t have to breath that in every day,” PGE Transportation Electrification Engineer Luke Whittemore said.  

The zero-emissions buses not only make a positive impact on the environment, but it also makes for a quieter ride.  

RELATED: First-of-its-kind electric vehicle charging station opens

“It’s super quiet, which is going to help me when it comes to student management issues,” Beaverton Bus Driver Jorge Rivera said. “I’m able to hear the kids better, they’re able to hear me better.”  

“We love clean vehicles in Beaverton. Beaverton is a very high-tech district. So, any time we can operate something that reduces pollution, reduces emissions, that’s a big win for us as well,” Beaverton School District Transportation Dept. Operations Supervisor Joel Feldhan said.  

The funding from PGE not only helps school districts add the buses to their fleet, it also pays for upfront costs and charging infrastructure.  

“It’s really exciting to help enable that for our school districts because the cost is high up front,” Whittemore said. “So, we’re able to help out with that and help school districts to eventually lower their operating costs to lower fuel costs, lower maintenance costs because these electric vehicles are so much easier to maintain.”  

Those maintenance savings add up to about $3,000 per vehicle per year and just under $2,000 a year in fuel costs, according to Feldhan.  

PGE will continue the Electric School Bus Fund, taking applications each year. The company just wrapped up this years applications process and will announce the next round of recipients at the end of 2021.

RELATED: Oregon school district postpones first day of school over lack of bus drivers

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