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Buellton Union School District debuts new electric bus

Electric School Bus
A brand new Buellton Union School District electric bus is parked outside Jonata School on March 25, 2024. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

BUELLTON, Calif. – Buellton Union School District will officially unveil a brand new electric school bus during a special ceremony scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The New Blue Bird All Electric bus can hold up to 80 passenger and will transport about 70-to-80 students to the school district's two campuses daily.

“We are proud to be able to provide the community," said Superintendent Dr. Randal Haggard. "With efficient responsible transportation. We are also excited to provide students with a model of ways we can care for this beautiful place we call home."

Last year, Gov. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will require all of the state's school buses to be zero-emission by 2035. 

There are currently about 24,000 school buses in California.

In addition to its new large 80-passenger bus, Buellton Union School District will also receive a smaller second wheelchair accessible electric bus later this summer.

"This is much, much better," said longtime school district bus driver Miguel Garcia. "Everything is better. The suspension, the brakes, the radius, everything is way better, smoother."

Garcia, who has driven for the district for 15 years, has been test driving the new bus and notices a significant difference compared to the older model.

"It's quiet," said Garcia. "No more smelling the diesel. It's clean and smooth. Yeah. This is way better than the diesel. Nobody is going to be complaining about the noise anymore."

The first bus now in operation was used for the first time Monday afternoon, transporting kids home from class.

Haggard said it will be used periodically through the remainder of the school year, and will be put into daily service at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year in the fall after charging infrastructure is completed during the summer.

"We're currently using a temporary level two charger that takes a good long while to charge that big a vehicle," said Haggard. "We will start the construction probably in May, and we hope to have the construction completed by July. Right around the same time, the second bus will be delivered, we will have the capacity to be able to charge the vehicles and utilize them every day."

Article Topic Follows: Environment & Energy
Buellton Union School District

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Dave Alley

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