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Chula Vista electric school buses charged to help the environment

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Matthew Bowler
An electric powered school bus is plugged in for recharge at the Chula Vista Elementary School District's bus yard. Chula Vista, CA October 12, 2021

Some school buses in the Chula Vista Elementary School District are now charged and ready to transport students and save the environment. There are 10 new buses rolling out everyday as the first zero-emission, electric-powered buses in the district’s fleet. They were paid for with grant money from the California Energy Commission. The money was given to the district in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown kept the electric buses off the road until now.

Libni Lopez has been a bus driver with the district for three years. She has driven the traditional diesel-fueled buses and is now behind the wheel of an electric bus. She said, “I feel it’s safe because if something happens like one of the doors opens...the bus will stop.”

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Matt Bowler

An electric powered school bus is plugged in for recharge at the Chula Vista Elementary School District's bus yard. Chula Vista, CA October 12, 2021

The buses are technologically advanced and include a high power air conditioning system.

The district said it is committed to safety first when transporting its students, including the health of bus riders. District Communications Director Anthony Millican told KPBS, “We obviously have a number of green practices in place and our electric fleet enables us to reduce our carbon footprint and makes the air around our buses cleaner.”

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Matthew Bowler
Electric powered school buses for the Chula Vista Elementary School District have speakers that make a fake whooshing sound as they drive by, because the engines are so quiet they can sneak up on pedestrians, Oct. 12, 2021.

Along with the 10 buses funded by the state, the district was also awarded a grant through the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District for the purchase of two more electric buses. The new electric buses will replace two older diesel buses currently utilized in the District fleet. The air pollution control district grant allows the district to continue its conversion of diesel buses to electric and/or alternative fuel buses. The two newest buses will be received in May 2022. That will mean the District’s fleet of electric buses will grow to 12.

“We are appreciative of the state energy commission and local pollution control district for making bus replacement a priority and at no cost to our District,” said Oscar Esquivel, deputy superintendent for business services and support. “These buses reflect the latest technology in school transportation while also helping us lower carbon emissions.”

Chula Vista electric school buses charged to help the environment