Georgia Power Co. and Fulton County Schools are giving a test on the first day of school -- one that does not involve books or pencils, but does involve students. The two are testing an all-electric school bus that will transport Fulton County students to and from Northwood Elementary School and Haynes Bridge Middle School beginning Sept. 3 -- the first day of the 1996-97 school year.
The 32,350-pound Blue Bird bus is the first all-electric school bus ever to be used in Georgia. It seats 72 students, has a standard all-steel, transit-style body and chassis with 14-gauge post and roof bows and a continuous armor belt above and below the floor for safety.
The 230-horsepower AC electric motor that serves its power system requires no gear shifting and has built-in diagnostics, which means it can go 100,000 miles without major service. It can accelerate from 0 to 55 mph in 32 seconds with the speed governed at 55 mph, and it has a range of 60 to 80 miles between charges. The zero-emission bus requires eight hours to fully charge
its 112 12-volt lead-acid batteries, has regenerative braking, which will prolong disc brake life by 200 to 300 percent, and includes all the conventional safety features of other school buses.
Zero-emission electric vehicles are becoming part of the overall solution to air quality problems in major U.S. cities, said Paul Bowers, Georgia Powers senior vice president of marketing and executive sponsor for the Southern Companys electric transportation initiatives. The electric school bus is an effective means alternative transportation since it produces no tailpipe emissions at the street level.
Georgia Power is loaning one all-electric school bus to Fulton County
Schools that will be used in several applications within the county during the 1996-97 school year. The purpose is to test the range -- by beginning with shorter routes and expanding as the range capabilities are determined, to test reactions from the community in different routes and student populations, to and ascertain the effect of cold weather on the batteries.
A unique advantage of the electric school bus is that there is no engine noise, said Ron Watts, Fulton County Schools executive director of transportation. When students are quieter, drivers experience less stress due to the reduced noise level and can concentrate on safe driving practices.
Bus number 880 begins its route at 7 a.m., arrives at Northwood Elementary School at approximately 7:20 a.m., returns to the road to pick up more Northwood students, and arrives at the school at approximately 7:42 a.m. The bus will then make another round of stops to pick up students attending Haynes Bridge Middle School. Students should arrive at school by approximately 8:10 a.m. The entire route is 25 miles long.
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