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Salt Lake City School District introducing first electric school buses in Utah

The first-ever electric school buses in the state are being deployed in the Salt Lake City School District. (PHOTO: John Wojcik, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The first-ever electric school buses in Utah deployed this week in the Salt Lake City School District.

Electric school buses arrive in SLC

Starting Monday, two electric buses will transport students on the west side of Salt Lake City. By next week, the district plans to deploy two more electric buses in the same area.

Transportation Fleet Manager Ken Martinez says the goal is for the new school buses to run in all conditions. 

“These buses are equipped with air conditioning so we can run them all during the summer,” he said, “as well as full heat. I tested out the heaters this morning and it took about three minutes.”

What has Martinez excited is the relatively low upkeep costs for the new vehicles.

“The maintenance is very low,” he said. “Basically we check the lights and the brakes and that’s about it.”

Additionally, district officials don’t expect charging to become an issue when looking over their current bus routes.

“We’re estimating these to run about 100 miles off of a full charge… which should be no problem,” says Martinez. “Our longest route is about 80 or 85 miles.”

Targeting an area to deploy the new vehicles

When compared to a car, Martinez notes that a bus typically does a lot more stopping-and-starting, a recipe to emit  plenty of pollutants.

“With a diesel engine, you emit a lot of emissions doing that. With these, there are absolutely zero,” he said.

Deploying the first four electric buses on the west side of Salt Lake City was a strategic decision by education leaders to hopefully reduce pollution in an area that routinely is towards the top of the entire state in air quality concerns.

The district is currently in the bidding process to add even more electric buses to their existing fleet and Martinez says they hope to have eight total by next spring.

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