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energynews.us/2018/06/12/midwe

Now that's interesting, an Illinois proposal to use school (which don't really run during the summer) as grid storage batteries when they're not being used. (Also, they can recharge during the peak when they are being used, helping smooth load the rest of the year.)

@bhtooefr maybe buying a regular bus that can be used interchangeably with the ones transit agencies own, so the oldest buses need to be run only during peak hours... i don't really understand separate school buses

@pony I mean, I agree with you, but there are three problems I can think of.

First, in many areas in the US, there is no real transit authority to share routes with.

Second, there's a US cultural aversion to allowing kids to be unsupervised around adults that aren't either family, parents of friends, or school staff.

Third, morning rush hour basically needs a separate bus fleet anyway - the morning rush for school is close enough to the morning rush for work that I don't think it'd work.

@bhtooefr this doesn't mean they wouldn't be operated as a school bus or that the fleet size in overal could be drastically downsized because of the shared pool, but still, getting new electric buses and then only use them for peak routes (schoolbus) is so silly, they should be used as much as possible and the oldest, supposedly the most polluting, maintenance-requiring, and break-down prone, buses should make the peak-hour reserve

@pony My point is that in many areas, there are no other buses, it's just private cars.

In my area, there are other buses, but they're minibuses used for a point-to-point on-demand paratransit service.

@bhtooefr so you are wasting a relatively large fleet that could be the other buses too... it's not that buses are that expensive, they are not, but owning buses sort of is, there are garages, drivers, administrative and everything...

@pony I mean, I agree, but the trick that you do need the ability to absorb the peak demand ridership to have a reliable enough service to make it not a money loser, and you need to get past the cultural issues, too.

You may be able to do things like shift the school day to relieve the early stress if you want to make it work - have school start at 07:00 instead of 08:00, so you have two hours to get commuters to work instead of one hour.

@pony Here's a discussion of the idea, though, that brings up a couple other points: econlog.econlib.org/archives/2

One huge one is ergonomic (and I think there's safety reasons for the poor ergonomics) - school buses are designed to hold children safely, not adults comfortably. (They rely on close seat spacing to do it.)

@pony Also interesting is the bit that school days are already shifted to improve bus system capacity - so shifting them even more would be harmful to the children using the bus system. Ultimately this means that it won't work to use school buses to start a public transit service, unless you could somehow convince employers to shift start of work later (you won't).

@bhtooefr you'd probably also want to go to reorganize the lines, introduce transfers, etc.

still, things like this are just... absurd
> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_b

why they made the bus so the driver cannot see kids in front of it ffs.

@pony It's because school buses are also the absolute cheapest buses possible, usually - basically front-engined heavy trucks with a bus body put on the back instead of a box truck body. There's no space requirements demanding short noses in much of the US (although there are some "transit-style" school buses for districts with higher ridership).

And, the US mirror requirements are lacking compared to the norm for Europe.

@pony Note that this is the kind of bus that many smaller transit authorities use in the US - also front-engined, and based on a mid 1970s cargo van chassis that Ford still produces for things like these and motorhomes, having finally discontinued it for van applications in favor of the Transit a couple years ago. (This is actually one of my local transit authority's buses.)

@pony Yes, that's a paratransit van that isn't even low floor - there's a bulky wheelchair lift that has to be extended, lowered, the wheelchair user wheeled onto it, and then the lift raised and stowed, making stops take an extremely long time.

@bhtooefr it looks like something from Ukraine, well. Minibuses are quite problematic from what I heard, they are of course based mostly on vans, but often too heavy and unwieldy, with braking issues. And there usually isn't a way to avoid engine in the front. Midibuses, that are usually more like "regular" buses scaled down to ~8 meters tend to be much nicer.

@pony In the US, these tend to be built on heavier duty variants of the van chassis at least, with upgraded suspension and braking hardware.

As I understand, the big problems that they have are with the diesel engine options, which are notoriously unreliable and hard to fix due to being crammed into a too-small engine bay, and have complex emissions control hardware that fails. This means that many of them have large gasoline engines instead, and are horrendously inefficient.

@pony A typical Ford-based version of these would have had a 6.0 l V8 diesel (an engine known for major cooling system issues, made worse by being crammed into a van engine bay), and nowadays has a 6.8 V10 gasoline engine. This would go through a 4-6 speed automatic depending on year.

The Chevrolet versions used to get a 6.6 l V8 diesel, and now gets a 6.0 l V8 gasoline engine, also through a 6-speed auto.

@pony As far as I'm aware, the diesels would've been in the 10-15 mpg (16-24 l/100 km) ballpark, the gasoline engines would be in the 6-10 mpg (24-39 l/100 km) ballpark.

The diesels were discontinued because the emissions control hardware simply didn't fit, and emissions standards got stricter, but fuel economy standards didn't really get stricter for this class (note how CO2 is treated differently from other emissions).

@pony Yes, those engine sizes seem huge - note that a lot of the power gets eaten up by horrendously inefficient transmissions (and the large gasoline engines are pretty reliable, at least).

But, really, the reason transit authorities use these? They're *CHEAP*. The midibuses available in the US cost ~3-4x as much as one of these, meaning that a grant to buy equipment goes much further buying these, and those grants don't concern themselves with operational expenses.

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