The Municipality has requested the District's Transportation facility, "Bus Barn," to be moved to another site. The Anchorage School Board has not requested or supported via vote the move.
From the Municipality of Anchorage/Anchorage School District -- Student Transportation Maintenance Facility Site Selection Study:
This facility will need to be relocated to allow for a mixed-use development planned on the site to be developed to its highest and best potential and as identified in the recently adopted Anchorage 2040 Lnd Use Plan (2040 LUP).
For more information: Contact Robin E. Ward at the Real Estate Department, Municipality of Anchorage, 343-7536 or WardRE@muni.org.
Cleaner Diesel Exhaust
Newer buses are now coming with a new exhaust system called Selective Catalytic Reduction. This technology will destroy harmful emissions after combustion by using a urea based diesel fluid (DEF). When a bus is started the harmful nitrogen’s are stored in the filter system where a small amount of DEF is then injected into the exhaust upstream of a catalyst. The DEF in conjunction with the catalyst converts the harmful nitrogen from engines to harmless nitrogen and water.
Q: What is the number of bus routes that originate at the Student Transportation site?
A: 75 Routes
Q: What is the number of employees that drive to the Student Transportation site:
A: Approximately 130
Q: What requirements were provided to the Municipality for a ST facility?
A: The ability to mirror the present operation with a minimum of 8+ acres to operate 120 school buses; and purpose-build facilities to support bus maintenance, operations and administration, full-service wash bay, fueling stations and employee parking.
Q: How many new buses were purchased, and what is the replacement plan moving forward? How does this help?
A: The District replaced 16 new buses this year and will be replacing another 8 next year. Our goal is to replace 8 buses a year so that we are on a 15 year cyclical replacement plan. Replacing buses helps improve air quality as the new buses are much cleaner burning because of new emission systems and improvement in diesel fuel.
Q: Why does the District not out source all busing?
A: Approximately 40% of the District’s busing operation is performed by Student Transportation; the remainder by the District’s partner, Reliant. This arrangement is more cost effective, reduces overhead and liability, and it provides a viable, competitive alternative to a single vendor contract.
Q: What does the District do to mediate noise and environmental concerns?
A: The District limits bus engine idling to the minimum times necessary to achieve mandatory operating temperatures. The District is replacing older buses with more efficient diesel burning buses.
Q: Has the District studied the potential of using electric buses? The findings?
A: This topic came up during the Municipality’s initial effort to relocate Student Transportation. The District recognized the future potential of electric buses; but that the costs and performance did not make conversion from diesel buses feasible. Also, the Municipality – unlike the District – is able to seek federal transportation grants for electric buses from the Department of Transportation. The District would not consider converting at municipal taxpayer expense without the Municipality taking the plunge first, ostensibly through federal dollars, to test and evaluate the feasibility of electric buses. You may be aware that People Mover received and tested an electric bus last year.
1. Cost: Two considerations on cost. First consideration is the purchase price for an electric bus compared to a diesel bus. An electric bus costs between $350-400K; whereas a diesel bus costs between $110-130K. The second cost consideration involves infrastructure conversion; specifically the upfront capital costs to build the electric power stations to charge up to 125 buses. The District estimated that cost for this conversion between $8-10M. Unknown is the comparative operating cost between electricity to charge bus batteries and diesel.
2. Performance: In a nutshell, battery life and performance in electric buses do not meet the needs of a school district using a 3-tier system servicing a large area with long routes. In Anchorage, this limitation is compounded by extreme cold temperatures during six months of the academic year. Bus interiors need to be heated to 40 degrees Fahrenheit; which is an additional battery drain.
In closing, Student Transportation Senior Director Chuck Moore recently queried the People Mover Director about People Mover’s experience with the electric bus tested last year. At present, People Mover has no plan to acquire additional electric buses based on the department’s experience.