First electric school bus in state to serve local students

An electric school bus was on display July 7 at Schmitty & Sons bus garage in Lakeville.An electric school bus was on display July 7 at Schmitty & Sons bus garage in Lakeville.

Schmitty & Sons bus company will be part of the first demonstration project in Minnesota using an electric school bus.

The electric bus was displayed at an open house July 7 at Schmitty & Sons Lakeville garage.

The demonstration project is a collaboration involving Dakota Electric, Great River Energy, The Lion Electric Co. and Schmitty & Sons.

Schmitty & Sons employees are the operators for the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority.

The goal of the demonstration project is to demonstrate electric school bus performance in a cold weather climate and on longer suburban and rural routes.

“We really think this could be the right fit,” said Bill Forbord, chief operating officer of Schmitty & Sons. 

In addition to being environmentally friendly, Forbord said electric buses could provide a hedge against rising fuel costs.

The project will also examine the economics of an electric school bus, including overall energy and maintenance cost savings and be able to calculate emission reductions.

"Minnesota Valley Transit Authority is proud of our affiliation with Schmitty & Sons and their leadership in usage of eco-friendly technology," said Luther Wynder, executive director of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. "As MVTA looks to procure electric buses in the future, it's great to have a contractor with a shared vision of providing services within our region that use more sustainable energy sources that benefit our environment."

The electric bus is expected to go into service during the upcoming school year this fall. It will transport students in Lakeville Area Public Schools, which serves students in Dakota and Scott counties.