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Lake Tahoe Unified School District purchases electric buses

Staff reports
LTUSD conducted a test drive with a new electric school bus in November 2018.
Provided / Rebecca Bryson

Lake Tahoe Unified School District received a grant earlier this year to purchase two electric school buses.

Earlier this month marked the first test drive of the production vehicle. The district expects a few more test drives this winter, and if all goes well, LTUSD could have the two buses in service by 2019-20 school year.

Pollock Pines also is purchasing electric buses, and they test drove the same bus that same day.

These electric buses can go up to 120 miles on one charge, which should easily cover a day’s worth of bus routes. The advantages — besides being better for the environment — are that they can save over 80 percent on fuel costs, according to the district. There are additional savings when it comes to maintenance, as well. They are also incredibly quiet and with zero local emissions, they are healthier for our school kids and bus drivers.

The buses come with a $400,000 price tag, however, there are multiple grant opportunities from county, state and federal agencies to help defray costs. LTUSD has applied to three agencies to replace up to 16 existing buses with electric models.

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An application to the county Air Quality Management District yielded funding for two buses, but eight were applied for, according to the district. LTUSD was wait-listed on another rural school district grant due to the massive number of entries. The hope is to purchase the first two buses with grant money and pilot them as route buses in the district, and to prove their effectiveness for route length, terrain and weather.

“Greening” the district’s vehicle fleet ranked high on the LTUSD Renewable Energy and Sustainability Committee’s priority list. The committee set a goal of 50 percent clean energy vehicles by 2021.


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