Dean Transportation and Kent ISD Unveil State's First Hybrid Electric School Buses

October 10, 2010

By MiBiz.com

Grand Rapids, Michigan – Dean Transportation was joined by officials from Kent Intermediate School District today in welcoming the latest additions to the area’s school bus fleet – a pair of hybrid electric vehicles, including a 71-passenger bus for Grand Rapids Public Schools and a 54-passenger bus for Kent ISD.

The buses are a first for Michigan schools and among the first 10 manufactured in the United States by Thomas Built School Buses that meet the latest, most stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

“We are thrilled to be at the national forefront of this cutting-edge technology that will improve public health, especially for school children, and help safeguard the environment for future generations,” said Kent ISD Superintendent Kevin A. Konarska. “This fits hand-in-glove with a program we launched in 2008 to annually award and recognize student classroom efforts to promote earth-friendly initiatives ranging from composting and recycling to habitat creation and solar cooling.”

Hybrid electric buses – which don’t have to be plugged in to charge – use energy that is lost to braking in conventional buses. Because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard, it lessens the release of emissions into the air. The bottom-line benefit of hybrid electric buses: less dependence on fossil fuel and a reduction in greenhouse gases of up to 30 percent.

The hybrid buses will be owned and operated by Dean Transportation, a half-century-old, family-owned business.

Kellie Dean, president of Dean Transportation, said the hybrid electric buses are the wave of the future. The company will continue to work closely with schools to identify ways to purchase more hybrid electric buses and other alternative power vehicles.

“This only strengthens our commitment to provide state-of-the-art transportation to students throughout Kent County,” Dean said. “We’re especially excited to take this pioneering step of offering green transportation to lessen our carbon footprint and make a positive and healthy contribution to the environment.”

Half of the cost of the buses – about $150,000 each – was paid through a $1.07 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.  In total, the grant has provided for:

• Four hybrid buses (one used in Grand Rapids Public School District, one for Kent ISD, and two for Ingham ISD)

• 217 Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (retrofitted on Dean buses in 2009)

• 48 Crankcase Ventilation Systems (installed on Dean buses in 2009)

• 65 Fuel Operated Heaters (installed on Dean buses in 2009)

Six new buses for the Grand Ledge School DistrictDean operates about 900 buses and employs nearly 1,000 people statewide.  Dean Transportation owns and operates about 400 school buses in Kent County, including 230 for Kent ISD and another 170 buses for Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Kent ISD provides services to more than 120,000 K-12 students and 7,000 educators in 20 public school districts, Christian and Catholic school and public school academies across the county.