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Grant Provides District with New Zero-Emission Buses

October 2020

With the ever-growing concerns surrounding carbon emissions, in 2019 our district decided to do what we can to combat this problem by applying for a grant to pay for zero-emission school buses. 

In May 2020, the funding of over $1.8 million from the Carl Moyer Grant Program in partnership with Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) was approved to pay for four new zero-emission buses and the electric charging station infrastructure. As part of the grant, four of our oldest diesel buses will be decommissioned.

On September 30 and October 1 four new electric buses were delivered to our school bus yard, much to the excitement of our eagerly awaiting transportation team. 

Mechanics on the team inspected each of the buses in detail inside and out before the buses hit the road for test drives. On the second day, after a training session explaining the bus specifications and the main differences between electric and diesel buses, transportation staff got to take a ride and each marveled at how quiet the electric buses are. Two lucky bus drivers even got to take the new bus for a spin.

“California is at the forefront for electric technology and we at SCUSD wanted to do our part with helping the environment,” said Transportation Manager Anthony Valdez. “It is also in line with the state's guidelines set forth by the California Energy Commission to phase out all diesel and natural gas-powered buses by 2049.”

Lead Mechanic John Guio pointed out that one of the main benefits of the electric buses, aside from no more diesel fumes, is the quieter engine because it allows the drivers to hear what’s happening on the bus as opposed to the drone of the engine.

The Blue Bird All American Electric Buses produce zero emissions and can travel up to 120 miles on just one charge. The buses are not run on a traditional engine and transmission powertrain — in fact, they have no transmission at all. Fewer parts needed for repairs, coupled with no need for engine oil changes, means lower maintenance costs for the district. You will be able to easily distinguish the new buses on the road by their bright green bumpers on the front and back of the bus and their stealth-like engines.

Due to the added precautions during the pandemic, once students begin to return to our school campuses, we will be following strict health and safety guidelines according to the protocol provided by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

There is still additional funding available through the BAAQMD and we plan to apply in the near future to update more of our fleet.