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Grants, Familiarity Aid First Electric Blue Bird Deliveries

A Los Angeles-area school district said its experience with Blue Bird and dealer A-Z Bus Sales, Inc., was the deciding factor in choosing the All American Rear Engine Electric school bus.

Bellflower Unified School District was set to receive the two new school buses on Friday. They were purchased via California’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, which provides a point-of-sale discount payable directly to the bus dealer to cover the incremental cost, and South Coast Air Quality Management District funds.

“The district is pretty much getting these buses for free,” commented Mark Toti, Bellflower’s transportation manager.

He told School Transportation News that the new school buses are first subject to California Highway Patrol inspection before being approved for student transportation.

Toti added that he expects Bellflower’s buses to be in service by November. The school district also needs to complete the installation of its vehicle charging stations that are supplied by ClipperCreek.

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Toti said familiarity with Blue Bird and dealer A-Z Bus Sales prompted Bellflower to choose the All American as its electric school bus. Bellflower already owns 26 Blue Bird and Micro Bird CNG school buses. The 72-passenger All American electric buses have a similar design to the district’s All American CNG buses.

“The main reason we chose to go with Blue Bird was the local support and from Blue Bird itself,” he added.

Toti said that he, his lead mechanic and lead driver, visited A-Z Bus earlier this month to conduct initial training on the handling and maintenance of the new electric school buses. He added that the district will work closely with A-Z Bus and Blue Bird during the warranty phase.

“We need to make sure the training is detailed and we have what is needed to make sure the driver and mechanic can handle the task,” he explained.

While Bellflower owns all of its buses and provides the maintenance service, another school district with headquarters located about 80 miles away provides the routing and school bus drivers. Hemet Unified School District has partnered with Bellflower for the past five years, and operates satellite offices for the district and others in the area.

Toti said Hemet helps transports about 200 special education students and 60 general education students to and from school each day via 12 route buses. He added the majority of school bus transportation is for over 1,000 field and sports trips each school year.

Bellflower Unified is officially unveiling the two All American electrics during a public ceremony scheduled for Oct. 12.

Meanwhile, Mountain View School District serving El Monte and South El Monte, located about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is acquiring five All American electric buses. It also used HVIP and SCQAMD funds to purchase the buses and infrastructure. A message left with the district to obtain more information had yet to be returned at this report.

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