Langs bets big on electric

Langs Bus Lines will put 200 all-electric school buses on SWO roads, with deliveries starting next year

MANY STUDENTS ACROSS the region will soon be getting a more enivronmentally-friendly ride to school, with 200 all-electric school buses set to start hitting the streets next year.

The buses, built by the Saint-Jérôme, Quebec-based Lion Electric Company, were ordered by Langs Bus Lines, a Strathroy-based operator of more than 600 school buses and minibuses that many Londoners will have ridden over the years.

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According to the company, they have been operating one of the electric buses — called a LionC school bus — since 2019 on a pilot basis, and are now ready to grow in that direction.

“As we clearly saw the benefits of all-electric vehicles, we are pleased to purchase 200 LionC electric school buses to transport thousands of students throughout Southern Ontario,” says Kevin Langs, vice-president of Langs Buses. “With these new buses, we will provide a safe, reliable and innovative transportation solution to our students.”

The LionC bills itself as “the only purpose-built all-electric Type C school bus manufactured in North America,” and looks in almost every respect like a traditional school bus: bright yellow, boxy and long. Were it not for its characteristic electric-blue bumper, you might not even think it was anything other than a regular school bus.

Langs bets big on electric Langs Transportation

The electric buses can carry up to 72 passengers, have a range of between 150 and 250 kilometres per charge, and have “as much or even more power” in their electric engines “than standard diesel engines in the school transportation industry.”

“It is very encouraging to see so much momentum in the market for zero-emission school buses throughout Canada, and Lion is proud to have the opportunity to be part of this large deployment in Ontario in collaboration with a great partner like Langs Bus Lines,” says Marc Bedard, founder of Lion Electric. “We look forward to future deployments of electric school buses in Ontario.”

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The purchase order is conditional upon the satisfactory grant of non-repayable contributions to Langs Bus Lines under Infrastructure Canada’s Zero-Emission Transit Fund, for which Langs Bus Lines has filed a formal application. Under the ZETF program, the Government of Canada aims to invest $2.75 billion over five years to support public transit and school bus operators in the transition to electrification.

As one of the more ubiquitous vehicle types on the road, school buses are emerging as an interesting opportunity for electric manufacturers. While a lot of focus has been put on public transit buses, uptake there has been slower, while school buses have presented a bit more of an under-the-radar opportunity that Lion Electric, in particular, seem to have capitalized on.

In the United States, they are becoming quite popular, with 72 per cent of voters in one poll wanting to see their district switch to zero-emission buses. Earlier this year, the American Lung Association called on Congress to invest $20 billion in electric school buses alone — enough to transition one-fifth of the nation’s school buses to electric power. At least 250 school districts across the U.S. have already signalled some kind of commitment to make this switch.

“Support for the transition to zero-emission buses is overwhelming and broad,” says Andrew Baumann, senior VP at Global Strategy Group, which conducted the aforementioned survey, in a statement. This support “remains robust after voters heard simulated arguments from both sides.”

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That movement seems to be picking up steam in Canada, too. In November, Student Transportation of Canada (another school bus operator) put in an order for 1,000 LionC buses, while in May, the country’s largest school bus operator, First Student, ordered 260 buses to be used in Quebec.

“We are getting very excited to be putting the buses into operation,” said Benoit Morin, VP of sales at Lion, in an article in Sustainable Bus Magazine. “Getting children excited about zero-emission technologies today sets them up for a lifetime of climate ado any, to the benefit of their communities and the planet.” Langs bets big on electric Langs Transportation Kieran Delamont

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