THOMASTON — The newest addition to the Rockland area school district’s bus fleet arrived last week — a 71-passenger electric vehicle.

Regional School District 13 Business Manager Max Black said he was excited about the addition of an electric bus. The bus will result in savings on fuel and maintenance as well as the benefits to the environment from less reliance on fossil fuels.

The bus cost $345,000. The district is receiving a rebate from the state of $301,875. A diesel bus costs about $112,000.

The cost to power a diesel bus during its lifespan is $140,315 and the maintenance cost is $109,350, the business manager said. An electric bus is estimated to cost $28,675 to power it during its lifespan with maintenance estimated at $43,740. The charging station cost $13,000.

A charging station has been installed at the leased bus garage facility in Thomaston. The AC station will charge the bus in about six hours, and once a DC charger is installed, fully charging the bus will take about two hours.

The expected lifespan of the bus is 200,000 miles, about the same as a diesel one.

The bus can go 120 miles before a charge is needed. The electric bus will be used for local bus routes and not field trips, Black said. A bus route can take two to two-and-a-half hours with high school and middle school students being transported first and then elementary students.

The long-term goal is to get more electric buses, and not to go completely electric. Black said he wants a mix of diesel and electric.

Local first responders were given a training opportunity Wednesday morning, Jan. 18 with the buses. He said fires on electric buses are extremely rare but when one occurs, it receives a lot of attention.

The biggest difference that drivers have noticed, Black said, was how quiet the electric buses are.

The Camden area school district received its first electric bus late in 2022 and the RSU 13 business manager said RSU 13 is excited to be an early adopter of the technology.

Photo by Stephen Betts

Photo by Stephen Betts

Photo by Stephen Betts