Step-by-Step Guide | October 17, 2022
Step 4.1: Train Drivers, Maintenance Workers and First Responders


A thoughtful and comprehensive training program is essential to the success of bus deployment and equitable implementation. Successful electric school bus deployment will in part depend on having well-trained drivers, maintenance workers, dispatch and potentially some transportation and front office staff on the basics of electric buses. 

Driver training is particularly important, since technique can play a large role in the range and performance of an electric school bus. Some districts have had success running competitions amongst drivers to promote efficient driving practices. 

The powertrain of an electric school bus is very different than a fossil-fueled bus and is anticipated to require less maintenance, which can impact school district maintenance workers by requiring fewer staff to maintain a similarly sized fleet. To ensure a just transition and workplace safety, school districts must work with maintenance workers and their unions to ensure they are receiving needed training and support. Many dealers will include high voltage repairs in the warranty so planning for downtime required for towing and external repairs at a dealership is important.

Finally, it is important that first responders are trained on best practices in the case of emergency. Some important topics for first responder training include: how to know which buses in the fleet are electric; battery configurations and manual disconnect switch locations on the buses; and the procedures needed to suppress battery fires, which differ from internal combustion engine fires.  

Things to do:

  • Obtain bus safety and recommended maintenance documents from manufacturer or dealer
  • Train drivers on instrument clusters, regenerative braking, emergency high-voltage shutoff, charging and other key procedures
  • Train maintenance workers on new electric components (e.g., electrically driven heating/cooling and power steering, volt meters, traction motors), preventative maintenance and schedules, diagnostics and proper high-voltage shutoff procedures.
  • Educate towing companies on options for transport and battery disconnect
  • Train first responders on how to respond to emergency events

Questions to consider:

  • Who needs to be trained? What level of training will they require? 
  • How comprehensive is the training provided by your bus manufacturer, dealer or contractor? Do you need to include extra training in your contract that goes beyond this?
  • Do you need to periodically schedule trainings over time? Could a train-the-trainer approach work for the school district? 
  • What safety protocols need to be established for trainings?
  • How will maintenance needs shift with electric school buses? What trainings will maintenance workers need?
  • How can electric school bus trainings support a just transition within the school district and broader community?
  • What elements of maintenance are the responsibility of the district vs. the manufacturer/dealer? What types of maintenance are district mechanics permitted to perform by the manufacturer/dealer and under warranty? 
  • Are there opportunities to hold a first responder training with other transit or municipal fleets? If there are other electric school buses or electric vehicle fleets in your region, can this training be coordinated?

Potential stakeholders:

  • District transportation director
  • District fleet manager
  • District dispatch staff
  • Manufacturers/dealers/as-a-service companies
  • School bus contractor (if applicable)
  • Drivers and associated union representatives 
  • Maintenance workers and associated union representatives
  • First responders
  • Other electric vehicle fleets in your local area (to coordinate first responder training)