HYATTSVILLE, Md. — School buses are getting supercharged for the future as one Maryland company unveils its first electric bus.
K. Neal Truck and Bus Center is showing its prototype to public officials and school administrators Tuesday morning as more leaders work to bring cleaner energy to school transportation.
In August, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced grant awards to help school districts throughout the state, including Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun, purchase some electric buses.
Korey Neal, President of K. Neal Truck and Bus Center, said their electric bus looks like a traditional yellow school bus but runs on batteries -- that last 50, 100, or 150 miles depending on the model.
"So there's no level of carbon output from it," Neal said.
He said their battery charging center does produce emissions, but over time will help greatly reduce emissions.
“I think it's going to change the way that we go to work, how we drive, how we go places," Neal said.
Neal said their electric bus also has multiple seatbelt options, including one that essentially converts into a car seat for younger children.
He said it's taken a lot of research and development, but he sees electric vehicles as the future of transportation.
“When you think about, you know, back in the early 1900s when we had the transition from horse and buggy to cars, I think this is that same type of transformation. It's going to be hard," Neal said. "Infrastructure is going to have to catch up, but at the end of the day, this is the right thing for our sustainability as we go forward.”
He said the plan is to produce 600 to 800 of these electric buses by mid to late 2022.
If more school districts start buying them, there could be a huge impact on the environment.
In Gov. Northam's August press release, the Department of Environmental Quality Director was quoted estimating that replacing just 83 of their diesel buses is the equivalent of removing 2,000 cars from the road.
In addition to helping use cleaner energy, Neal feels a bonus.
“Helping kids get to school, back and forth on school buses, um, you really feel like you're doing something that's greater than yourself.”
The K. Neal Truck and Bus Center's official unveiling will last from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday morning.