Milpitas Unified School District is putting to good use more than $2 million in grant money to help fund a new fleet of all-electric buses to serve local students and schools.
The District applied and qualified for two grants simultaneously; one from the California Energy Commission and the other through the Bay Area Quality Management District (BAAQMD). The CEC grant funded two buses while BAAQMD partially funded those two plus four more for a total of six buses, according to Brian Shreve, MUSD’s Director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation.
The District accepted the BAAQMD grant under the ‘Carl Moyer Program’ and also received additional funding through the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) program under California Air Resources Board.
“We anticipate to be one of the first school districts in Northern California to receive and place these school buses in service,” said Shreve.
The buses are capable of up to 120 miles of range and can be recharged in approximately eight hours using a standard SAE J1772 Level 2 charger, which were recently installed here in Milpitas.
The total project cost for the six school buses and infrastructure was $2,282,748, of which $2,075,756 was covered by the grant. The District’s out of pocket expense amounted to $206,992.
Along with the grant funds, the District also established a vehicle electrification partnership with Blue Bird Corp. and Cummins Inc. to help with the transition to the new fleet of all-electric buses. That is already under way, with the charging station infrastructure installed at the District’s yard.
“We are ready for the arrival of our new MUSD school buses,” Shreve said.
In preparation, MUSD and the bus manufacturer are hosting a series of training sessions for school district mechanics throughout the region. The first was about a month ago and a second training class was held at the San Jose City College Extension, using a new small demo bus.
“We put it on our lift in our shop at the corporation yard to look at and inspect,” detailed Shreve. “I felt taking advantage of this being in ‘our home’ couldn't be passed up, especially for our employee PD. I'm hopeful there will be more in the future as well.”
Blue Bird has been working with electric technology in school buses since 1994 and recently secured the partnership with the Cummins electrified power business segment. Nearly 100 electric school buses powered by a Cummins electric drivetrain have been ordered to date from Blue Bird Corp. The overwhelming majority of the bus orders are from California school districts.