Mark Walsh, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ secretary-treasurer, poses by new electric school buses last May. The district just received two more electric buses. (News Bulletin file)

Mark Walsh, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ secretary-treasurer, poses by new electric school buses last May. The district just received two more electric buses. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools doubles number of electric buses

Two new buses arrived this week, with electric trades van coming in March

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is continuing work to electrify its vehicle fleet.

A pair of new electric school buses was delivered to the school district Jan. 26. Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer, said the larger bus will run on the route servicing Pleasant Valley Elementary and the other, smaller bus will assist students with diverse needs.

In addition to the new buses, the district was also able to get new charging stations, said Walsh, as it has good relationships with the B.C. Ministry of Education and other ministries. Two charging stations were initially installed when the first two electric buses arrived in May and two more were installed, with expandability/hydro service for 10.

“One of the things that we did was, between the ministry and the board, we actually put together more money to expand our charging stations in advance of the new buses … what’s nice is we’re one of the first districts doing this,” said Walsh. “B.C. Hydro’s working with us right now as well, just to get a sense of the impact of our buses on the electricity grid.”

Walsh said additionally, an electric vehicle for tradespeople is anticipated to arrive in March, which will be the first in the district.

“It’s a trades van,” said Walsh. “It’s 202 kilometres of range and it will be checked out daily … we’re considering this a pilot (project) because it’s a bit more expensive and we want to see that it works, functions, electricity use as well as making sure we have enough charging stations for it.”

Currently, the district has a total of four electric vehicles, with 27 diesel-powered buses and five spares. Walsh said it will take at least a decade to fully convert the fleet.

“What happens is we apply for support from the Ministry of Education on a yearly basis, but they’ll only support purchases where the previous bus is essentially worn out, so there’s a formula that we need to use to support a replacement,” said Walsh.

RELATED: SD68 shows off new electric school buses


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