Los Angeles Unified School District places order for 180 electric buses from Blue Bird Corporation, including 150 All American models and 30 Vision models.
The first buses are scheduled to be delivered in October of this year, with the order set to be completed by early 2025.
Blue Bird has just celebrated the milestone of delivering its 1500th electric bus to a school district.
Battery-electric school buses have been available for some time, though they're still a little difficult to spot on the morning commute in most states through the thick clouds of diesel smoke produced by other school buses. But things are slowly changing in a less diesel-flavored direction.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has just placed an order for 180 battery-electric school buses from Blue Bird Corporation, making it the single largest order in the company's history for its battery-electric buses.
The order includes 30 Vision models and 150 All American models, which will join 26 other battery-electric buses in the LAUSD's fleet. The two models both offer a range of up to 130 miles on a full charge, and need between three and eight hours to recharge.
The first buses are scheduled to be delivered in October of this year, with the entire order expected to be completed by early next year.
Besides the lack of thick clouds of diesel smoke, Blue Bird's electric buses offer one other advantage: vehicle-to-grid capability, allowing the buses to improve grid resiliency while also enabling them to sell energy back to the grid for a profit.
"The unprecedented order will help the school district transition the first of several depots to 100% electric student transportation advancing its ambitious goals of reducing harmful greenhouse-gas emissions while improving operational efficiencies," Blue Bird said in a statement.
Blue Bird notes that 1500 electric school buses have been delivered to school districts in 41 states so far, so LAUSD's order is not happening in a vacuum. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 has launched a federal program through the EPA that has set aside $5 billion in rebates for school districts to purchase zero-emission buses, which has already boosted EV bus adoption rates in many states.
Blue Bird isn't the only school bus manufacturer with battery-electric models in its lineup, but it's certainly a well-known leader in this field. The corporation recently inaugurated its Electric Vehicle Build-up Center, which in the longer term will allow it to produce up to 5000 electric school buses per year.
"Demand for low- and zero-emission school buses remains strong across the United States. Blue Bird will continue to meet and exceed our customer expectations," said Phil Horlock, CEO of Blue Bird Corporation.
School buses have always been one of the most natural candidates for going electric among state- and city-owned vehicles, because they have a relatively set daily schedule, predictable daily mileage requirements, and plenty of downtime overnight allowing them to recharge at their bases.
But using features like V2G will take some time to materialize in practice, as this capability requires some grid prep work to be used to its full efficiency.
At the moment, most of the focus is on grid infrastructure at school bus garages and efforts aimed at their wider adoption in all states.
Will we see much of the nation's school bus fleet go electric in the second half of the decade, or will meaningful progress in this regard require far more time? Let us know what you think.