Ongoing performance management will ensure that your bus and chargers are functioning as expected and that you are getting maximum value out of your electric school buses.
This data can also help build a case for additional electric school bus deployments. You should track energy use, fuel economy, range and reliability, amongst other indicators. If your buses are equipped with telematics technology to provide real-time performance data, you may want to publish regular performance reports and assess operational tweaks that could improve range or minimize operational costs.
You should also identify what outcomes you want to track based on what benefits are most important to your school district and community. For example, if your priority is students’ health and performance in school, you might track air quality improvements and noise levels on buses. To focus on environmental benefits, you might track avoided greenhouse gas emissions. To track benefits to the district’s transportation program, you could monitor operational cost savings, range and reliability or driver satisfaction.
You may be able to partner with local organizations to measure benefits and possibly acquire inexpensive air quality monitoring equipment. Check with your city air quality department or local academic institutions.
Things to do:
- Determine who is responsible for compiling data on and tracking bus and charger performance
- Determine who is responsible for tracking and evaluating air quality, environmental and other benefits
- Develop a reporting plan, select indicators and establish your baseline, aligning as much as possible with the metrics and process for diesel/gas/propane vehicles for easy comparison
- Monitor telematics from buses and adjust performance as needed
- Track operating data, such as energy use, fuel economy (kWh/mi), state-of-charge, ambient temperature and cost savings
- Track maintenance costs and savings
- Track and evaluate air quality and environmental improvements
- Perform qualitative research and surveys to assess user experience and satisfaction with buses
- Evaluate results and make changes to operations as needed
- Share results to enable better research and support other school districts with fleet electrification.
Questions to consider:
- What benefits of electric school buses are most important to you and your community to measure?
- What level of capacity (e.g., staff time) and resources (e.g., funding for air quality monitors) do you plan to invest in measuring performance and benefits?
- Is your charging system metered separately from your facility, or can you use an after-market data logger to track your charging energy use separately from other facility uses?
- How do duty cycles, ambient temperature, driver performance and auxiliary loads like heaters impact the range of your electric school buses?
- How will you calculate reliability, for example, through an indicator like availability or mean distance between failures?
- Do you have the availability to monitor air quality on or off the buses? Is there a local air quality or environmental department that can assist with monitoring?
- How can you assess user experience and satisfaction with electric buses from internal and external stakeholders?
- How and when will you communicate results with your key stakeholder groups?
- District transportation director
- District fleet manager
- District energy manager
- District communications staff
- District sustainability staff
- School bus contractor (if applicable)
- City or state employees that manage sustainability, climate and/or clean energy programs
- Local air quality organizations or academic partners
- Community organizations, including environmental organizations, environmental justice organizations and organizations that serve the populations around bus depots
- Tracking Performance — US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center: This 6-minute video provides an overview to electric bus performance indicators: energy use and fuel economy, range and reliability.
- Energy Use and Fuel Economy — US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center: This 9-minute video dives into the data sets needed to track electric school bus energy use and shows how to calculate fuel economy for an electric bus.
- Range and Reliability — US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center: This 9-minute video explains how to track range and reliability.
- Diesel Emissions Quantifier — US Environmental Protection Agency: An interactive online tool to estimate baseline and reduced emissions and cost effectiveness of air quality improvements.
- Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Calculator — Argonne National Laboratory: An online tool which estimates nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions after replacing diesel with an alternative fuel.