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Orange County rolls out Florida's first ever, all electric school buses

Six all electric school buses have been added to Orange County Public Schools' fleet.
Danielle Prieur
Six all electric school buses have been added to Orange County Public Schools' fleet.

Orange County Public Schools is the first district in the state to pilot an electric school bus program.

The district says the six electric buses have already started picking up and dropping off students this week.

Orange County Schools Transportation Director Bill Wen says the plan is to test out the effectiveness of the buses for the rest of the school year.

Electric buses are about three times the cost of a diesel bus and get about 100 to 200 miles to a charge, while diesel buses get 600 miles to a tank.

But he said the buses are quieter, more environmentally friendly and a bit safer because of better lighting.

“We ran a couple last week just to make sure everything's functioning, working well," said Wen. "They do like the way the buses drive, they're much quieter. So the students obviously won't have to yell over the engine. So I think that'll help with student discipline as well.”

Wen said the team will evaluate the buses based on several different factors.

“We’re looking at maintenance, preventive maintenance costs, brake wear, wear and tear, because these buses will slow the vehicles down to regenerate," said Wen. "So that'll be extended to brake life. And then we'll look at other school districts as well.”

The buses were purchased in part with a grant from the Florida Department of Education and the Department of Environmental Protection.Learn more about the buses here.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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