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West Fargo School plans to purchase the first all-electric school bus in North Dakota

The West Fargo School Board recently decided to buy its first and only all-electric school bus. Forum file photo

WEST FARGO — While it will cost more upfront, the state’s first electric school bus could become the cheapest form of transportation in the future. The West Fargo School Board decided Tuesday, Nov. 14 to buy its first and only all-electric school bus for $314,200.

According to District Spokesperson Stephanie Hanson, the vehicle will be the first electric bus in the state of North Dakota.

Business Manager Mark Lemer said the district can expect to save about $2,500 in diesel costs each year and $1,800 in maintenance costs annually for a total of about $64,500 over 15 years.

The school board also bought two additional diesel buses for $173,400. Although the cost of the bus is triple that of a traditional bus, the school district received about $150,000 in grant money to make the purchase.

Brad Redmond, director of transportation for the district, said the electric Bluebird bus from Hartley’s School Buses can seat about 72 and looks no different than regular buses, but there is little sound from the bus.

“It’s amazing how quiet it is,” Redmond said.

The school district received $70,000 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce Energy Program, $40,000 from the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future and $40,000 from Cass County Electric and Minnkota Power Cooperative to buy the electric bus.

“The new bus will be powered by North Dakota’s homegrown energy of which two-thirds is clean lignite coal,” said Joel Johnson, director for the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future, in a release. “Advancing electric vehicles is a crucial initiative to help grow the region’s economy.”

West Fargo Schools operates more than 40 buses and contracts with Valley Bus to transport about 40 percent of students who live .9 miles away from their schools.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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