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A Beginner's Guide to Electric School Bus Fleet Management


January 27, 2023

With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, school districts across America are now eligible to apply for EPA-provided funding and transition their diesel buses into electric alternatives. 

The Clean School Bus Program will infuse $5 billion in resources over 5 years – allowing fleet operators to build up low/zero emission fleets as well as charge them efficiently through the use of reliable charging infrastructure and smart charging software. 

Transitioning to an electric school bus fleet provides a wide range of benefits for fleet operators, such as cheaper running costs and the ability to meet sustainability targets. Local authorities and communities benefit from less air pollution and quieter streets.

In this article, we’ll explore how monitoring electric school bus (ESB) and EV chargers can improve charging performance through advanced demand response programs and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) schemes.

If you’re interested in discovering how to prepare the transition to an electric school bus fleet, be sure to check out our report, "How to Electrify a School Bus Fleet."

Monitoring Your Electric School Bus (ESB) and EV Chargers

Once you have prepared your electric school buses, you will want to keep a close eye on your ESB fleet performance.

Monitoring your vehicles and chargers not only reduces the chance of problems arising, but also allows you to adjust your operations to be more efficient and potentially save money.

More efficient charging will lead to cost savings, so you need to make sure that you have the correct charging capacity at your site to meet the demand of your fleet. This means having the right charging infrastructure and smart charging systems in place. 

There are two main ways to track and monitor your ESB fleet performance:

  • Vehicle monitoring: Fitting ESBs with telematics technology. ESB telematics systems can help to optimize vehicle driving by retrieving data from the vehicle. When telematics is linked with OCPP technology, it can help you to achieve optimal charging operations to meet the demand. 
  • Regular vehicle inspections are also important to monitor things like battery health, brake wear, and tire pressure. All of these factors will affect the performance of the vehicle and how efficiently it uses the energy stored in the battery. 
  • Charging Monitoring: Use performance indicators and track operation and maintenance of chargers. Ampcontrol is the ideal software system to track and monitor your charging infrastructure.

Optimize Your Charging

By utilizing the tracking data gained in the previous step, you can begin to optimize the charging of your ESB fleet. 

In many cases, demand response programs and Vehicle to Grid (V2G) schemes are excellent ways to cut the cost of charging your vehicles as they involve providing energy back to the grid from charged vehicles. Because ESBs run on a regular schedule, they are ideal as a backup source of energy when electricity demand is high, according to energy providers.

Demand response programs provide cost-efficient access to electricity by enabling fleets to ride the waves of local demand and take advantage of customer incentives. V2G schemes provide incentives by allowing fleets to manage their energy requirements and get rewarded for providing extra power back into the grid when needed. This not only supports the overall sustainability efforts of a school district but provides them with an additional financial revenue stream. ESB fleets that can work both demand response and V2G together will ensure secure access to safe and reliable electricity with added cost benefits.

Another way to increase the efficiency of charging your electric school bus fleet is to implement dynamic load sharing, meaning, smart charging software dynamically distributes the available power more effectively amongst the plugged in vehicles. 

Implementing dynamic load sharing technology can bring benefits for ESB fleets such as improved capacity utilization and reduced costs. Through dynamic load sharing, bus battery power can be redistributed back to its 'home' depot if the first destination requires less energy than anticipated. This redistribution of energy across multiple vehicles eliminates the need for additional charging units and extends the journey range significantly – reducing costs over time and maximizing fleet efficiency in our increasingly cost-conscious world. 

In addition, integrating dynamic load sharing technology into schools' processes enables more energy efficient navigation, creating a safer experience for drivers and passengers alike as it reduces the risk of running out of power in an unfamiliar area. Furthermore, with environmental consciousness rising, electric school buses equipped with dynamic load sharing offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional diesel powered buses that are widely used today. 

Smart charging software that utilizes OCPP messaging is one of the best ways to optimize the charging of your ESB fleet. Smart charging software with automated capabilities can lead to greater charging efficiency and cost savings by using algorithms to assess current conditions (real-time data) and historical data, then adjusting charging operations accordingly.

Below is an example of the different ways smart charging software can optimize and reduce the costs of charging operations:

Example of Optimized Charging

Let’s say you have 10 school buses that leave the depot, fully charged, at 5:30 am. They each follow a specific route and are back at the depot by 9 am. 

From 9 am until 3 pm, all buses are parked and not in use. This adds up to unused potential in a few ways:

  1. Energy Management: Instead of immediately charging the buses upon their return to the depot, you can use smart charging software to charge the vehicles during off-peak energy prices, while still making sure all vehicles are charged on time for 3 pm.
    This would translate into significant cost savings.
  2. Demand Response Program: Signing up to a demand response program with your utility can be quite beneficial if done right. A demand response event is implemented by grid operators to ease the strain on the grid during peak hours. In these events, the utility would send a signal to lower or completely stop the use of energy, and you would get rewarded for it. If your operations can handle demand response events while charging the school buses in time for their next shift, you can make additional revenue with each DR event.
  3. Vehicle to Grid Program: Vehicle to grid programs are new and exciting for the electric school bus industry. These programs allow school buses to feed energy back to the electric grid when the utility company signals it. This technology reduces the strain on the electric grid when there is a high demand for energy. Although V2G technology depends on the vehicle and charger chosen for the charging operations, it could significantly increase your revenue, and reduce your total cost of ownership.


Electric school bus fleets are going to become more and more common over the next decade. They provide an effective way for local districts to meet sustainability targets and boost their green credentials.

For more information, check out our report, "How to Electrify a School Bus Fleet," to learn how to electrify your school bus fleet in six steps, from funding opportunities to the operation of charge points.

The information above will help you as you start operating your fleet of electric school buses.  Ampcontrol is a smart charging management solution that helps you to monitor the performance and optimize your ESB fleet charging. Contact us today to find out more.

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