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Title:A Brand-New Electric Bus, No Charge. (That Was One Problem.)
Author:Dionne Searcey

In tiny Wymore, Neb., a sleek new battery-powered school bus became a Rorschach test for the future.


Dionne Searcey reporting from her hometown, Wymore, Neb.

The matter before the school board was straightforward. The tiny school district in Wymore, Neb., needed a new school bus to replace one so old and beat-up that it was used only to ferry the football team back and forth to the practice field a few blocks away.

The new bus would be larger than the old one, board members learned at the meeting 18 months ago, and also totally free, thanks to a federal grant. But the biggest difference: The new bus would be powered not by a diesel engine but by electricity.

The bus didn’t stir up much discussion that first meeting, recalled Christopher Prososki, the superintendent, who’s known around town as Dr. P.

“A free bus is a free bus,” he said.

But this bus wasn’t like the others.

Kids who rode it for the first time said it made a whirring sound like a U.F.O. Its driver said the hum reminded him of the Flying Car in The Jetsons. The school board president nicknamed it “the Biden bus,” annoying the superintendent.

As the months passed in Wymore, a town of about 1,300 nestled in the plains, the electric bus became a surrogate for far bigger issues this quiet corner of the nation is facing. In conversations in the school boardroom, at the volunteer fire hall and at the American Legion bar, the bus exposed fears of an unwelcome future, one where wind turbines tower across the flatlands, power generated by Nebraska solar farms is sent out of state and electric cars strand drivers on lonesome gravel roads.

Changes like these were bound to cause new headaches or worse in this part of the country, upsetting a comfortable and familiar way of life, some residents said. “We’ll fight it tooth and nail,” said John Watts, who worries that an all-E.V. future would jeopardize his 40-acre salvage yard just outside...

Organization:New York Times - Climate Section
Date Added:7/9/2024 6:38:54 AM