BAR HARBOR — A new bus is being used by the Mount Desert Island Regional School System to transport students to school.
“They got together and found out there was a grant from V.W. (Volkswagen) that we can get an electric bus, so we went for it,” Eric Hann, operations manager for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System.
Hann said they feel the electric bus is beneficial for the environment.
“The kids aren’t breathing diesel fumes,” said Doug Van Gorder, electric school bus driver for the school system. “We’re saving 10 gallons of fuel per day, but the only drawback was the cost.”
According to Van Gorder, the grant they received covered 80 percent of the approximately $350,000 bus.
“We got ourselves an electric bus for the same cost as a smelly old diesel bus,” Van Gorder said.
Hann said there is a charger at Mount Desert Island High School that uses solar power for the bus.
“It usually takes five, I believe, five to six hours for it to charge,” Hann said.
Van Gorder said the battery on the electric bus has a range of up 125 miles
“We can come to Ellsworth, Bucksport, Blue Hill, local schools like that, with this bus,” Van Gorder said.
Van Gorder currently uses the electric bus to transport students between MDI High School and Hancock County Technical Center.
“It really feels no different other than it’s a lot quieter,” Van Gorder said.
There is one sound that will tell you when the bus is coming.
“It plays these three chimes, and it’s interesting to watch people’s reaction that they hear this ice cream truck come by, and they’re a little bit confused,” Van Gorder said.
Hann said they hope to get more electric school buses in the future.
“The cost is high, but we will be investigating to see if there’s any other grants possibly for other ones,” Hann said.