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CUSD test drives new electric bus, set to join fleet in January

Approximately two dozen administrators, mechanics and bus drivers from the Chico Unified School District were taken on a spin Tuesday morning in a prototype electric bus.

The district purchased one very similar to it which will begin transporting students to and from school in January of 2019.

The $300,000 price tag of the new bus was paid for through a grant.

The bus is much quieter than the other 45 diesel-fueled buses that the district uses.

There is also a health benefit to students.

"There is actually zero emissions," said Pamela Caro of Blue Bird Corp., which manufactured the bus. "So as (students) hop on the bus they don't have to inhale all of that toxic smell."

District bus drivers will need to learn how to adjust their speeds so as to not to expend too much electricity too soon, as the top range is 120 miles per electric charge.

"They have to be concerned about how the accelerate and decelerate so they can save their battery charge," said Bob Ontiveros, the districts' transportation supervisor.

Governor Jerry Brown said he hopes that all buses will be electric by the year 2040.

That could depend on advances in technology, because diesel buses are still needed for long field trips or transportation to athletic events.

Thus far, the district is impressed with its purchase.

"It's really good with energy efficiency," said Kevin Bultema, the assistant superintendent of CUSD. "It's going to save us money and it's good for the environment and we're just excited about the new technology," he added.

The new electric bus will be put into the district's rotation in January. But at this time, the district hasn't determined the routes for which it will be used.

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