Local school district first in NC to use electric activity bus

Caldwell County is the first school district in North Carolina to be awarded an all-electric activity bus.

Already the bus has been a big hit with students who say it’s much quieter than the diesel school buses.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty found out how the district got the bus without using any taxpayer money and spoke with parents concerned about its use.

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The bus looks like many white activity buses in the county on the outside and inside, but it doesn’t use any diesel or gasoline. Instead, it’s electric and has its own charging station at the bus garage.

“I hauled a group of students to the electricity fair last week and they were amazed you could hear conversations from the back of the bus to the front,” said Transportation Director Jay McCarraher.

The $430,000 activity bus will be used on field trips and sporting events. The school district says it was awarded the electric bus and charging station through a state settlement program with Volkswagen, which has distributed more than $92 million for clean vehicles and EV chargers.

However, some parents had questions about the bus.

“Is there going to be anywhere or stations for you to take the bus to and charge it up … like a Tesla?” asked mother Naquita Williams.

Channel 9 learned that the bus can be charged at any charging station. School officials are still testing the bus’s range but have successfully made trips through three counties on one run. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to fully recharge.

“Every school in the county can benefit by taking a field trip in the white bus,” McCarraher said. “It’s not designated for one school (or) one route, and it can be shared by everybody.”

Channel 9 also learned gasoline buses in the county only get about 7 miles to the gallon. The district says it purchases roughly 150,000 gallons of fuel every year.

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