Unlocking Opportunities for Pupil Transportation Workers

Advancing Workforce Development in the Transition to Electric School Buses

New York State has emerged as a national leader in the adoption of electric school buses, paving the way for a brighter future for both its workers and the environment. As we transition towards a greener and more sustainable school transportation system, we are creating exciting opportunities for all.

WDI’s mission is to strengthen New York’s workforce. Our approach combines strong regionalized networks with statewide and national perspectives, all supported by deep expertise in program training, program evaluation, workforce systems, and fiscal administration. We routinely convene and consult with our partners and prioritize interventions that deliver the maximal benefit to communities and populations that need it the most. These models have allowed us to develop innovative, impactful programs in manufacturing, the unionized building and construction trades, energy/climate jobs, and many other areas relevant to school bus electrification.

WDI began work on our eSchool Bus Workforce Initiative with a statewide workforce analysis and needs assessment. Through this work, we identified a need for no-cost, high-quality familiarization training for our pupil transportation workers. This site is home to the modules that make up this training course. To learn more about WDI, visit our homepage.

Our Vision

New York State’s commitment to achieve 100% zero-emission school buses sets the stage for a monumental transformation. It demands a significant investment in our workforce. With approximately 50,000 school bus workers in the state, we recognize the need to scale up and skill up across various occupations.

Frequently Asked Questions

An electric school bus, sometimes referred to as an eSchool Bus, is a zero-emission vehicle designed for student transportation. It uses a rechargeable battery pack to power an electric drive motor – this completely eliminates the dependence on traditional internal combustion engines. The battery is “refueled” by connecting the bus to an appropriate electrical power source.

While electric and diesel buses serve the same purpose – transporting students – they share surprising similarities. Both offer designated seating for passengers, follow planned routes with designated stops, and require a licensed driver. They likely feature similar safety features like emergency exits, stop signs, and flashing lights. Both electric and diesel buses need regular maintenance to ensure safe and reliable operation. And they usually share the same familiar yellow color on the outside.

Electric school buses differ from traditional diesel buses primarily in their propulsion system and environmental impact. While diesel buses rely on internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuels, electric buses use electric motors powered by batteries. Electric buses tend to have lower operating costs due to the lower cost of electricity compared to diesel fuel and fewer moving parts, leading to reduced maintenance expenses over time. Electric school buses do not produce tailpipe emissions or pollutants linked with respiratory issues. They are usually much quieter than diesel and gasoline buses, making communication easier while the bus is in motion.

School districts and transportation contractors should collaborate with their OEMs, dealers, and service providers to make the most of learning opportunities for district and contractor staff. OEMs and dealers are highly knowledgeable about new and repowered electric buses. Drivers, technicians, monitors, and dispatchers can learn from their expertise through on-site and online knowledge transfer. Some, though not necessarily all, of this skill building may happen through warranties, service contracts, and similar agreements to the extent they do not violate collective bargaining agreements.

Electric school buses can handle cold weather, but extreme temperatures can reduce their range. Just like a phone battery, cold temperatures can reduce electric bus battery efficiency. However, unlike a phone, electric buses have heating systems for the battery and cabin that use some of the battery power. With careful planning, like charging at night and pre-heating before routes, electric school buses can potentially serve the same or similar routes as diesel and gasoline buses, even in cold climates.

Electric school buses undergo rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards as traditional diesel buses. Electric buses often have advanced safety features like reinforced battery enclosures and fire suppression systems to minimize the risk of accidents. With proper maintenance and adherence to safety protocols, electric school buses can provide a safe and reliable transportation option for students and communities.

Electric school buses undergo rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards as traditional diesel buses. They have fewer moving parts than diesel buses, reducing the risk of mechanical failures. Handling high-voltage components requires specialized training. Proper maintenance procedures reduce risks for mechanics and technicians.

Your rides will be quieter (no engine roar) and smoother (electric acceleration). There will be no fumes from diesel or gasoline. Tailpipe emissions will be gone, too. Charging might involve new routines, but fueling is likely simpler once you’ve had the right training. Pre-trip checks will focus on battery levels and new systems. Overall, it’s a shift to a cleaner, more tech-focused ride.

Although basic maintenance tasks like fluid checks, filter replacements, tire maintenance, etc. will remain the same, you will need training on battery management and motor maintenance as well as the information systems that come with electric school buses. You may be responsible to handle battery diagnostics, cooling systems, and electric motor servicing. Familiarity with charging infrastructure and safety protocols also becomes essential. Software updates and diagnostics will be part of your routine. While maintenance intervals may extend, you’ll need to stay vigilant for electrical system issues.

Transitioning to electric school buses as a fleet manager or dispatcher you may coordinate charging schedules, ensuring buses are adequately powered for daily routes. Training in electric vehicle infrastructure management becomes crucial, optimizing charging station placements and maintenance. Monitoring battery health and range will be a priority, requiring new protocols for vehicle rotation and scheduling. You may also oversee software updates and remote diagnostics systems. During the transition to electric school buses, you will likely communicate with your charging station vendor and your bus manufacturer about your usage and needs.

WDI’s eSchool Bus Familiarization course is a no-cost training program that demystifies battery-electric school bus technology to educate pupil transportation workers on the operation and maintenance of electric school buses. The course covers various aspects, including understanding electric vehicle (EV) systems, battery management, charging procedures, and safety protocols related to high-voltage components.

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