NEWS

Search

Electric bus outside of the Rathaus in Muenster, Germany.


Electric busses are amazing. When ours pulled up to the curb under the red, yellow, and white flags in front of the Rathaus it made NO sound. As someone who doesn’t like busses because of their nauseating smell, I was pleased to realize that electric busses do not have that smell because there is no diesel. I can well imagine that a city that composed its entire bus fleet of busses with electric ones would be much quieter and have cleaner air. According to our guide, Eckhard Schläfke, the bus drivers enjoy driving the electric busses for two reasons: one, they are proud to be contributing to the energy revolution and doing something good for the climate, and two, the electric busses vibrate less than their diesel counter-parts. This means that driving the electric busses for a whole shift is more comfortable for them than driving the diesel busses was. This also translates to a smoother ride for the passengers, which the motion sickness prone of the delegation appreciated.


Minnesota Commissioner Grace Arnold and Mindy Granley, a sustainability officer from the city of Duluth, riding on the electric bus together.


One of Muenster's city owned electric ride share cars for faster transport, the elderly and parents with strollers.

Herr Schläfke told us that right now the electric busses have a diesel backup for heat, which is used on the coldest of winter days. However, new electric busses which will have enough battery capacity to run the heat electrically are coming to the streets of Münster soon. Perhaps we will also see them in the metro areas of Minnesota soon.


Münster is also developing a program where city owned ride-share cars can be ordered to shuttle people to locations. An interesting idea for applying this concept for transporting more rural Minnesotans in bedroom communities to a bussing hub where they could then take a bus into the bigger city where they are employed. It is seeing creative innovations like this that help our leaders develop ideas for transforming public transportation, and transportation in general, in Minnesota to help us meet our climate goals and improve people’s lives.

Updated: Jun 8

March 3, 2021

The Fridays for Future movement has succeeded in making climate change a focus for German society. Climate protection has thus been put on the political agenda of almost all parties in Germany. CSM's Ulrike Badziura speaks to FFF activist Jana Norina Finke.


Ulrike Badziura: Jana, you are 16 years old and the head of the Fridays for Future movement here in Iserlohn. Why are you committed to climate protection?

Jana Norina Finke: It started when I was nine. I took part in the first Kids Climate Conference in Medebach (https://www.kidsclimateconference.de/de). After that, I was quite interested in the topic of climate protection. When the first demonstrations took place in 2019, it was of course very exciting for me and I took part right away. In the end, I even became one of the organizers here.


UB: Do you remember your first Fridays for Future protest?

JNF: Absolutely! It was March 18, 2019. I attended spontaneously. It was very impressive for me. There were so many people there, I think there were 600 people. I was surprised by how many people in Iserlohn were willing to demonstrate for more climate protection.


UB: Do you sense that your activities are creating change?

JNF: Difficult to say, but a lot is starting to move. Also in the City of Iserlohn. When we issued our calls hundreds of people came to the protests each time. I have the feeling that I have piqued people's interest.


UB: Did you run into problems with your school when you announced that you would go on strike for climate protection?

JNF: There were no major problems but I did receive an entry on my transcript for unexcused absences. At the same time, the school added a note indicating that the absences were the result of my engaging in political work.


UB: What role does Greta Thunberg, the Swedish founder of the Fridays for Future movement, play for you?

JNF: For me, Greta is the person who got the ball rolling. Nothing more to that. She got the movement started. That is clearly remarkable but luckily there are now lots of people who are active. That's why I don’t see Greta as a messiah but as the individual who got everything started.


UB: Due to the Corona pandemic, activities in the form of demonstrations are no longer possible. What alternatives have you found to continue pushing for more climate protection?

JNF: That's pretty difficult. We used April 24 of last year (two days after Earth Day) to do a virtual climate strike and called on people to take photographs of the banners and signs that had been prepared for the demonstration. We then uploaded them to Instagram and Facebook. In fact, we are currently having problems drawing enough attention to the topic of climate protection.


UB: Have you been active somewhere beyond Fridays for Future since the pandemic began?

JNF: I am involved in a community group called Citizens Help Citizens. We collect food donations from supermarkets—for example, fruit and vegetables that can no longer be sold—and give them to people in need. It's a very good thing to do. My mother initiated it and my dad has been involved from the start also. The idea came up when the food shelves that normally do this work suddenly closed last year because of the pandemic. Now they're open again but we continue anyway.


UB: What has been your most remarkable experience in your Fridays for Future activity?

JNF: That we were invited to the European Parliament in Brussels. It was truly impressive to see how the politicians work there and how interested they are in our movement.


UB: If you could look into that crystal ball, where do you see yourself in 30 years?

JNF: That's a very difficult question because I don't really have any plans. But I believe I’ll be somewhere in politics or research. I want to work on something that helps tackle the climate crisis.


UB: Is there anything you would like to tell our CSM group?

JNF: Fridays for Future is a movement of people, not a virtual movement. It continues to be important that we think globally and act locally. I believe that no matter where we are, we must fight climate change. Everyone can do something.

Updated: Jun 7

March 1, 2021


Interviewer:

"You spearheaded an electric bus project for Morris that is bringing $550,000 in new funding from the Volkswagen Settlement to your community. How were you able to make the collaboration with the school district such a success?"


Sam Rosemark:

"My supervisor, Troy Goodnough, notified me of an upcoming grant opportunity with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that he thought would be a cool project that I could work on: electric buses. The Morris Model group and I created an application for electric buses on behalf of the school district.


A big component of the electric bus application and grant opportunity was that it would benefit folks in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. In Morris, we’re not as diverse as other communities, of course, but we still are pretty diverse for rural Minnesota. Morris has a large Native American population, so throughout the application process, we wanted to focus on that. To do so, we worked with the Native American Program Coordinator in the school district and used census data. Clean air is important for everybody. Historically, people in BIPOC communities have not had equal access to clean air. When you have kids from BIPOC communities, or any community, riding school buses with diesel emissions and lining up outside to get onto the bus, the exhaust has a real impact on their health.


The first step was to connect with the district and meet with the school administrators. My primary contact with whom I coordinated extensively was the transportation director, Deann Recker. It was clear that our interests were aligned. They were looking to acquire new school buses to replace buses that needed to be retired. The grant would help fund the transition. I drafted the grant application and assisted with gathering data on how new, zero-emission buses would benefit the community, especially those most at risk to pollutants. Deann coordinated with the school district and researched the buses the district was looking to replace, including their yearly mileage, diesel consumption and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs). She also worked with manufacturers to get quotes for the new electric buses.


With the $550,000 we are able to purchase two LionC buses from The Lion Electric Co. They have a 100-mile range between charges. Morris is receiving two of the ten electric buses available in the program statewide."



1
2
 
 
 

back to top