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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Yellow and Green: MAST Students Bring Electric Buses to Miami

By: Paolo Montoya

MAST Academy’s very own Holly Thorpe has been at the forefront of the electric bus movement at our school, and her dream just came true.

MAST’s Green Champions Club in front of a Lion C electric bus with Miami Dade County Transportation Secretary Alice Bravo. Photo by Theo Miller.

On January 13, 2021, after a landmark decision by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the school board allocated $57 million to transform the school bus fleet from diesel to electric, cutting almost all CO2 emissions.

This has been the result of a long-time effort led by Holly Thorpe after she measured the Carbon Dioxide levels at our school’s bus area for a science fair project.

Holly Thorpe exiting from the Lion C bus she fought for 3 years to bring to MAST. Photo by Theo Miller.

“It was 40 times the tolerable amount for human consumption. I’m glad we’re making the yellow school bus green.” Thorpe said. Since her original observation, she has been advocating for MAST to go green in all ways possible. This electric bus proposal is one of her proudest accomplisments.

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“I’m very glad that I could lead this initiative, it will bring great changes to MAST for years to come. I love to help the environment; I love to do as much as I can to help.” Thorpe said.

The electric buses will be purchased from Lion Electric, a school bus company based in Quebec that has built over 370 total electric buses across Canada and the United States. The model that the district will purchase is the Lion C, one of three different models offered by Lion. With a 100-mile range and a battery that takes 6 hours to recharge, it offers a perfect combination of power efficiency and timeliness for the 2-shift school day.

Every diesel bus replaced by a Lion C is the equivalent of removing 5 cars from the road or as much as 50,000 pounds of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, according to Lion. In the summer, when the buses aren’t active, Lion says these buses can even provide energy back into the grid- lowering energy costs even more.

The Lion C parked outside of Vizcaya Station. Photo by Theo Miller.

In addition to the environmental benefits, Thorpe continues to advocate for the many intangible benefits of an electric bus fleet.

“The bus drivers will like it better. The controls are nicer, the experience will be improved, and there’s no loud engine. You can actually hear the students all the way at the back of the bus” Thorpe said.

While the Lion C buses will be more expensive initially than their diesel counterparts, the long-term costs are far lower, with total costs being up to 84% cheaper in a 20-year period. While a diesel bus costs 87 cents per mile to operate and maintain, an electric bus averages out at around 16 cents.

“Our school is finally seeing the light of day in terms of environmental action. This is the first step of many to lead us to a clean carbon footprint. I am very hopeful for what is to come,” Dr. Hood, our physics teacher, said.

The future of MAST is bright– and electric. 

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Yellow and Green: MAST Students Bring Electric Buses to Miami