The South Coast Air Quality Management District approved and awarded $8.8 million grant to 16 school districts and two charter schools for the purchase of 33 electric buses and charging stations.
Each winning school district will receive $536,000 in Carl Moyer Program funds, of which $496,000 is allocated for the purchase of two electric buses and $40,000 for charging stations.
Based on information from the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) site, the GreenPower "SYNAPSE 72" all-electric school bus runs 75 to 140 miles on a single charge and has zero emissions.
Though there’s yet been an actual pilot test to demonstrate the capability of electric buses for school districts, transportation directors and managers have expressed their concerns on battery life, with expenses at the front of their minds. School transportation operations are also unsure whether road terrain could affect energy consumption. In essence, depending on road elevation, there has yet to be any solid number given in terms of how far electric buses can travel in comparison to diesel fueled engines.
Nonetheless, each manager and director of school transportation spoken to said the switch to electric buses can have positive effect, both on school transportation operations and their local communities, by way of recycling energy and reducing fuel emissions.
Coachella Valley Unified school district’s department of transportation will add two new all-electric school buses and charging infrastructure next school year. According to Transportation Director Apolonio Del Toro, the interest in purchasing electric buses stemmed from not only the need to replace older school buses but also reduce emissions.
Coachella currently has 98 school buses, 13 of which are powered by natural gas.
Meanwhile, Matt Thomas, transportation director for Anaheim Union High School District, said electric school buses are earmarkedfor special needs routes and sporting events. He said the special needs students' homes are on average 10 miles apart, with the average route being 75 miles from start to finish.
Yi Hwa Kim, LAUSD deputy director of school transportation, mentioned that LAUSD aims to use its electric buses to optimize their special needs students routes, which range from 10 to 12 miles between each student stop. Testing will be conducted solely on flat roads. LAUSD currently operates 1,300 buses with 600 fueled on CNG, 100 Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, 141 propane, and the rest older diesel.
Mark Toti, Bellflower Unified School District's transportation manager, said he likes the fact that electric school buses can further reduce emissions. Bellflower has 28 total buses, of which 26 are fueled with CNG.
*Selected school district awardees:
Anaheim Elementary School District
Anaheim Union High School District
Baldwin Park Unified School District
Bassett Unified School District (La Puente)
Bellflower Unified School District
Coachella Valley Unified School District (Thermal)
Covina Valley Unified School District
Fontana Unified School District
Jurupa Unified School District (Jurupa Valley)
Los Angeles Unified School District
Lynwood Unified School District
Magnolia School District (Anaheim)
Montebello Unified School District
Mountain View School District (El Monte)
Rialto Unified School Distric
Savanna School District (Anaheim)