Blue Bird receives record electric bus order

California school district to convert nearly half of its diesel-powered fleet to zero-emission vehicles

BEV The Blue Bird All American Type D electric school bus. (Photo: Blue Bird)

Macon, Ga.-based Blue Bird Corp. said it has received the single largest order of electric school buses from a school district in its history. Modesto City Schools in California purchased 30 zero-emission school buses. The order reportedly enables the school district to convert nearly 50% of its diesel-powered bus fleet to clean energy. 

Modesto City Schools expected to benefit from cost saving opportunities by reducing or eliminating the fuel and maintenance costs tied to traditional diesel-powered vehicles. Blue Bird has said that select customers reported fuel costs of up to 49 cents per mile for their diesel buses, compared to an average 14 cents per mile in energy costs for electric buses. Modesto City Schools anticipates saving more than $250,000 a year in fuel costs alone by converting nearly half of its diesel-powered fleet to electric vehicles.

“The price of diesel fuel continues to skyrocket. Our sustainability projects are designed to address climate change, reduce air pollution, and lead the next generation of students in learning about a Sustainable lifestyle with renewable energy, carbon reduction, and clean mobility options,” said Tim Zearley, Associate Superintendent of Business Services, Modesto City Schools. “I’m proud that Modesto City Schools is leading the way in public education sustainability initiatives in Stanislaus County.”

“Blue Bird is recognized as a technology leader and innovator of low- and zero-emission school buses in North America,” said Matthew Stevenson, president and CEO, Blue Bird Corp. “We are pleased to help Modesto City Schools turn its vision of clean and sustainable school bus transportation into reality. Soon, nearly 30,000 school children in California’s Central Valley will enjoy emission-free transportation and cleaner communities.”

Modesto City Schools purchased Blue Bird All American Type D electric school buses. It uses a Cummins PowerDrive 7000 propulsion system with a Dana TM4 Sumo rated 315 peak horsepower with 2400 ft. lb. peak torque. Energy is stored in a 155 kWh lithium ion battery pack using NMC/G cell chemistry mounted between the frame rails.

The district anticipates delivery of the zero-emission vehicles in the fourth quarter 2022. Blue Bird electric buses can carry a maximum of 84 passengers for up to 120 miles on a single charge. They take between three and eight hours to fully recharge depending on the charging infrastructure.

Blue Bird’s electric school buses were partially funded by California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). The California Air Resources Board (CARB) launched the program in 2009. HVIP is administered by CALSTART, a national clean transportation nonprofit consortium.


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