Montgomery County Public Schools
montgomery county bus

Montgomery County (Md.) district will acquire 326 electric school buses in the next 4 years

Feb. 25, 2021
The school system intends to replace all its diesel buses with electric vehicles by 2035.

The Montgomery County (Md.) school district is adding hundreds of electric bus school buses to its fleet, and will become the biggest operator of electric school buses in the United States.

WTOP Radio reports that the school board approved a four-year contract to replace 326 diesel buses with electric vehicles.

The goal, district administrators say, is for the school system’s fleet of school buses — more than 1,400 vehicles right now — to go completely electric by the year 2035.

“The effort to increase the electrification of our school bus fleet has been a topic of conversation for quite some time,” says Essie McGuire, associate superintendent for operations.

The total lifetime contract cost for the 326 electric buses is $168,684,990, the district says. It expects to cover the cost of the contract over time with funds that otherwise would have been spent purchasing and operating diesel school buses.

The contract with HET MCPS, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highland Electric Transportation, covers an initial “four-year term,” but the district would be able to extend that “through complete fleet electrification.”

The school system, which has more than 160,500 students, will start later this year with 25 electric buses, followed by 61 buses next year and 120 in each of the two subsequent years.

“The school bus industry is moving in the direction of electric buses,” says Todd Watkins, transportation director for Montgomery County Public Schools. “This is something that appears like it’s going to sweep over the industry like no other innovation ever has.” 

Watkins says that on a typical school day, the district uses 17,000 gallons of diesel fuel  for its buses. The district's buses travel almost 20 million miles a year.

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