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(Posted 8 a.m., Aug. 5)
Navan school bus operator to debut new electric bus

By Fred Sherwin
OrleansOnline.ca

The Navan school bus company M.L. Bradley Ltd. has agreed to undertake a pilot project with the Quebec based Lion Electric Co. to test out one of their electric school buses.

The bus, nicknamed “the ice cream truck” by M.L. Bradley because of the music it plays whenever it comes to a stop, contains five batteries and can go up to 150 km on a single charge.

M.L. Bradley general manager Andrew Both proudly stands in front of the company’s new electric bus. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The company is taking advantage of an incentive program provided by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure to provide buses on a pilot project basis to school bus operators across the province.

M.L. Bradley general manager Andrew Both says the company is eager to test out the electric buses given the fact that the cost of diesel fuel has gone up by 20 per cent as a total percentage of their operating budget over the past 10 years.

But while the electric buses will allow school bus operators to save on fuel the actual cost of the bus itself is extremely prohibitive. While the average cost of a diesel-powered school bus is about $100,000, an electric school bus costs more than three times as much, coming in at $360,000.

Despite the cost, Both predicts that electric school buses are the way of the future.

“You can see it being undertaken in California and Quebec. So I would hope we’re moving in that direction. It’s better for the environment. It’s better for the kids that you’re transporting, but there’s a lot of money in this,” says Both.

Besides saving on fuel costs, the buses are extremely quiet. So much so, in fact, that they are equipped with a P.A. system which plays music as they come to stop, thus the nickname “the ice cream truck”.

M.L. Bradley is currently recruiting new drivers for the upcoming school year and the provincial government is providing separate incentive bonuses of $1,000 each for drivers who stay with the company from September to December, and from January to June.

To be eligible, drivers must start oper-ating a school bus at the beginning of the school year.

M.L. Bradley provides training for new drivers who must first pass a certified CPR course before their training can begin.

Driving a school bus can provide a decent income for retired or semi-retired individuals looking to remain busy.

Most drivers work split shifts based on the school day. The first shift can begin between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and runs for 90 minutes to two hours depending on the route. The afternoon shift can begin as early as 2 p.m. and lasts the same length of time.

Not surprisingly, M.L. Bradley places a strong emphasis on safety and the company strives to continually improve and create driver awareness through regular safety meetings and refresher courses.

They also conduct on-route safety audits during which supervisors ride on board with the drivers while they travel their routes.

For more information visit the M.L. Bradley website at www.mlbradley.com.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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