Going Green: School District Purchase $14M Fleet of Electric Buses Thanks To State Grants

The daily journey to school for students in Modesto City Schools, California, is about to get a lot more eco-friendly.

The school district has embarked on an ambitious plan to mitigate its environmental impact by rolling out 30 new electric school buses.

This green initiative is not just about saving the planet but also promises significant economic benefits for the district.

A Major Leap Towards Green Transportation

One of the most significant aspects of this initiative is the scale of the change.

The district’s financial commitment to this green venture is substantial, with the new fleet of electric buses valued at around $14 million. State grants and partnerships with charging stations and electric companies made it all possible.

This investment allows Modesto City Schools to become a pioneer among school districts, replacing half of its existing bus fleet with electric vehicles in a single purchase.

This bold leap means that the daily commute to school for many students will now be powered by clean, renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

Dual Benefits: Environmental and Economic

The new electric buses are a win-win for the district, offering environmental benefits while also making economic sense.

As explained to CBS by Tim Zearley, the district’s associate superintendent of business services, the switch to electric buses is projected to result in an annual saving of $250,000 in fuel costs.

This means the investment in the electric fleet will not just help the environment but also deliver tangible cost savings that can be redirected toward improving education and resources for the students.

Charging Infrastructure and Grid Support

The electric buses, each with a capacity to transport up to 78 students, will be powered by dedicated charging stations and solar carports.

These carports, equipped with solar panels on their roofs, will serve a dual purpose — they will provide shelter for the buses when not in use and also generate electricity to charge them. An approach that ensures that the district can power its new fleet without putting additional stress on the city’s electricity grid.

In fact, by generating its own power for the buses, the school district is actively contributing to the stability of the local electric grid. This aspect of the initiative underlines the broader benefits that can be achieved when institutions take steps toward sustainability and energy independence.

A Trendsetter in Sustainable Education

The switch to electric buses aligns with Modesto City Schools’ mission to educate its students about the importance of sustainability. The district is using this initiative as a practical demonstration of how sustainable practices can be implemented and the tangible benefits they deliver.

Schools across the country are increasingly recognizing the benefits of electric buses.

Despite the higher upfront costs compared to traditional buses, the long-term savings from reduced fuel expenditure are significant.

With government initiatives providing financial support to make these buses more affordable, more schools are expected to follow Modesto’s lead.

Final Words

The move towards electric buses is also timely, with legislation set to prohibit diesel school buses on the roads by 2035.

Modesto City Schools has shown that, with foresight and commitment, it’s possible to make substantial progress toward this goal well ahead of time.

This initiative signals an important shift in how school districts can contribute to environmental sustainability while also delivering long-term economic benefits.


This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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