March 28th, 2019
New zero-emission buses owned by JTB Hawaii visit local schools through education partnership with Blue Planet Foundation
What kind of bus would make local students yell, “Cool!”? One without a tailpipe.
Over 1,000 students from six Oahu schools are getting first-hand experience with the newest clean transportation option on the island—three all-electric buses that JTB Hawaii has added to its fleet. They are the first zero-emissions commercial buses in Hawaii.
The buses have been making stops at local schools where students get to see the modern technology up close. In conjunction with the schools visits, representatives from Blue Planet Foundation have been sharing interactive presentations with students about clean energy solutions. Some lucky students even get to jump on board for a test ride.
“We probably heard the word ‘cool’ a thousand times during these visits,” said Francois Rogers, Blue Planet Foundation’s Special Projects Director. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with JTB Hawaii to educate students about our clean energy future. These buses may seem futuristic today, but they will be commonplace when these students are adults.”
All four Hawaii counties have set targets for 100% renewable ground transportation by 2045 — a goal that supports Hawaii’s overarching policy of carbon neutrality by the same year.
Besides their modern electric drive, the new buses stand out in another way: their exteriors feature colorful artwork drawn by students statewide. Last year, Blue Planet Foundation invited students to share their vision, through art, of what a 100 percent renewable transportation future will look like for Hawaii. More than 250 students from 14 schools statewide participated in the program, from which 42 pieces of art were selected to be displayed as part of the buses’ design. Images of the children’s artwork from the buses are available on Blue Planet Foundation’s website.
“When I go into schools across the state, I always hear students talking about wanting to do something about our climate crisis. They are often frustrated that real solutions are always in the ‘future’ and not ‘now,’” said Griff Jurgens, Blue Planet Foundation’s Education Coordinator. “So these kids are thrilled to see a part of their clean energy future, today.”
Chase Manangan, 4th Grader at Manoa Elementary, stands in front of his artwork on one of JTB Hawaii’s all-electric buses
“I was excited when I learned that my drawing was going to be on the bus,” said Chase Manangan, 4th Grader at Manoa Elementary. “It’s cool to see the bus in person and learn about how it is better for our climate.”
The school visits were selected based on the winning artwork from the students. To date, about 400 students from Waipahu High School, Manoa Elementary, and Noelani Elementary have experienced the buses and received presentations from Blue Planet. In total, Blue Planet expects over 1,000 students to experience the electric buses through past and upcoming school visits. This Friday (3/29), the bus will visit Sunset Beach Elementary on the North Shore between 8:30a and 10a and Kamiloiki Elementary in Hawaii Kai between 1p and 2:30p. Next week Tuesday (4/2), the bus will visit Le Jardin Academy in Kailua between 8a and 10a. Members of the media are invited to attend these visits and presentations (see below).
Each bus, manufactured in the United States by California-based Proterra, can carry 77 passengers, reach a top speed of 65 miles per hour, and travel for 250 miles on a single charge. The buses will operate on battery-powered energy of 440 kilowatt-hours (kWh), with a projected efficiency of 1.75 kWh per mile with a full passenger load. The time to fully charge each bus takes three hours and 30 minutes. The full-size buses produce no emissions or noise pollution, are lightweight and are built lower to the ground to better accommodate boarding. Electric vehicles are far more efficient than traditional internal combustion vehicles, and when plugged into Oahu’s electricity grid, nearly a quarter of the energy they use will be from renewable sources.
“We need to rapidly expand the number of electric fleet vehicles in Hawaii to help minimize the negative impacts of our ground transportation sector as our electrical grid moves to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” said Lauren Reichelt, Blue Planet Foundation’s Clean Transportation Lead and Clean Cities Coordinator for the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii. “The creative and inspiring artwork featured on these buses will be a reminder that we must do better for future generations. This will require both environmentally minded personal choices and forward-thinking business decisions.”