Lucky #13 has arrived

Lake Los Angeles – Wilsona School District has taken delivery of their second all-electric school bus as of May 2020 when the pictured Bluebird® school bus arrived this past week.

The first all-electric bus in the Antelope Valley was presented to the District at a ribbon cutting ceremony held Thursday, June 21, 2018, with representatives from the California State Air Resources Board, California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (CARB), Assemblyman Lackey‘s office, Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD), Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, and the WSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent.

This bus was delivered to the WSD out of the first year’s distribution of The California Climate Investments Cap & Trade Funds. The charging station at the WSD Transportation yard was installed to accommodate two buses in anticipation of another second bus being delivered to WSD in the near future.

It is difficult for smaller school districts to obtain these buses. This bus was one of two in Southern California at the time. All others have been delivered to districts in Northern California.

The Rural School Bus Pilot Project, a pilot program, is the source for more all-electric buses. A small district or a rural district is defined partially by the number of students being under 3,000 for which WSD qualifies.

This pilot project helps rural school districts get rid of older, dirty school buses and replace them with ultra-clean and zero-emission models. This program has received $63.0 million. $21.6 million has been implemented

The project could fund as many as 160 new school buses statewide, reducing roughly 47,500 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions when completed.

The main goal of this pilot grant program is to speed up the turnover of California school bus fleets to lower carbon transportation choices, especially in rural school districts that have less access to other funding sources.

A statement on the website about the program said, “Traditionally, small and rural school districts have the oldest and worst polluting fleets that historically have not had the opportunity or ability to receive funds for replacement or upgrade projects. According the US EPA, more than half of today’s school buses have been in service for over a decade. These older buses emit twice as much pollution per mile as a semi-truck. Consequently, health risks for students, especially younger children, increase significantly because their respiratory systems are still developing.”

Of utmost importance besides all the obvious environmental reasons and cost effectiveness is the health of children riding the buses.

The new electric bus will replace a 1990 Ward diesel bus whose engine could not be upgraded. The diesel bus will be dismantled so it. can never be used again. This dismantling is a stipulation in the grant agreement. This prevents the bus being sold again in another area or another country. The grant recipient is required to complete and submit a Dismantler Certification Form within 60 days of receiving the new bus.

An annual report must be sub mitted to the NCUAAQMD at 12, 24 and 36 month intervals after the b us has been put into service. The bus would be considered in active service on the date the new bus received CHP certification. Odometer readings maintenance, CHP certification status, renewable fuel quantities purchased and costs, at minimum. The District must maintain mileage records, use and maintenance s well as record the odometer reading of the new school bus at two dates each year: 1 on the anniversary date the new bus was placed into active service and on December 31 of each year, all of which is a stipulation of the grant.

This not only accommodates the use portion of the agreement but supplies California with data collection which will improve the system. As data is collected, it will be analyzed to disclose trends and make the program stronger and more efficient. The first bus has a record of about one and one-half year of being on the road and Lucky #13 will mirror that format. Renewable fuel purchases will be verified using information and documentation provided in the annual report.

The California Highway Patrol will inspect and certify Lucky #13 before it can be used. California has a 40-point inspection curriculum that applies to new buses before they are placed in service and follow up periodical inspections on all school buses. The United States has school bus inspections but California is more stringent. The School Bus Program is designed to ensure maximum safety when school pupils or farm workers are transported on California streets and highways. This is done through adherence to and enforcement of the current laws and regulations governing all aspects of the School Bus Program.

Lucky #13 will be placed into service when school resumes again for the 2020-2021 school year. Linda Kunkel, Director of Transportation Services for WSD said, “We will utilize this bus better as it will get more miles per charge with the new generation of electric buses.”

Pictured is Mrs. Kunkel pointing out the two outlets for the buses located at the bus yard behind Challenger Middle School.

Through careful and prudent management and wise forethought on the part of the District, installing a charging station that would accommodate both buses at the time a second bus arrived, there is no addition expense connected with Lucky #13. Another charging cord will be purchased so both buses can charge simultaneously.

With the bus being awarded to the District in lieu of the District being forced to replace rapidly aging diesel buses out of their budget, that saved revenue will be used in the classrooms.