School buses can be traced back to as early as 1886 with the iconic yellow design we know today being introduced around 50 years later in 1939. Since this design was introduced, the school bus has remained relatively unchanged. The evolution of the modern day school bus has been running in the background for years now despite their outward appearance.
According to Worldometer, at the rate we are currently using oil, we will run out within the next 50 years. This rapid decline in oil reserves combined with the environmental issues caused by oil based fuels has led to scientists clamoring to come up with ways to replace the precious resource. Electric Vehicles have become one of the most promising innovations surrounding this, and they continue to gain traction as more and more people make the switch to electric. With around 480,000 school buses in the U.S., many are looking to make school systems the next big adopter of electric vehicles.
One of the biggest complaints of electric vehicles is the lack of distance they can travel before needing to refuel. Fortunately, schools buses don’t suffer from this issue often. School buses operate in 2 shifts across the span of a day in order to get children to school as well as get them home. This means they have time to charge in between routes. Although it does happen, school buses rarely exceed the distance of their typical route in one driving session.
Electric school buses are not a new idea despite what you may think. They have been evolving for more than 2 decades. The biggest manufacturer of electric school buses is Blue Bird who have been marketing electric school buses since 1994. After 27 years of development, Blue Bird have created electric school buses that are affordable, eco-friendly, and above all, just as safe as any other school bus. A large school bus from Blue Bird can travel up to 120 miles between charges which is well above the distance of a typical bus route.
Going completely electric isn’t the only innovation coming to school buses though. Bendix and Thomas Built Bases are working together to integrate the Bendix Intellipark Electronic Parking Brake. The Intellipark system aims to assist the job of bus drivers by creating a more ergonomic and comfortable parking brake that will remove any harsh jerking stemming from previous parking brakes. This system is one more step in the direction of safe and easy transportation of students.
New school buses are beginning to include other useful safety features such as lane departure warnings, 360° cameras, and collision mitigation systems. There are even new tablets made specifically for bus integration which will allow substitute bus drivers to have turn by turn navigation of the route so that students are guaranteed to arrive at school on time.
School buses are in the market for change and they will continue to evolve as technology advances.