Driving electric vehicle adoption

Blue Bird Receives Record-Breaking Order of 180 Electric School Buses

Announced on January 16, 2024, a historic purchase by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) through their local Blue Bird dealer, A-Z Bus Sales, Inc., is a forward leap in sustainable transportation, putting the district at the forefront of the eco-friendly initiative. With the acquisition of 180 electric school buses from Blue Bird Corporation, the order marks the single largest order of electric school buses from a school district in its history. LAUSD not only sets a precedent but also propels its commitment to a cleaner, greener future. The switch to zero-emission vehicles is a commendable effort to minimize the environmental impact of daily school commutes and underscores the promise of improved air quality and reduced carbon footprint for the community.

(Image: Blue Bird, All American model)

This sizeable investment in clean transportation marks a pivotal step for LAUSD as it pioneers the electrification of student transit. The initiative is slated to transition several of the district’s bus depots entirely to electric buses, showing strong leadership in environmental stewardship. LAUSD bolsters its green credentials, having already incorporated twenty-six Blue Bird electric school buses into its operations. The forthcoming delivery will encompass 30 Vision and 150 All American electric buses, both models touting cutting-edge technology and a solid single-charge range of up to 130 miles.

The district eagerly anticipates the arrival of the first batch of buses in October 2024, with the complete order expected to be in service by early 2025. Depending on the upcoming improvements to charging facilities, these state-of-the-art electric vehicles will require between three and eight hours to reach full charge, ensuring a reliable and efficient service for the daily transport of students.

“Los Angeles Unified is excited to move toward the electrification of our Sun Valley Bus Yard school buses,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “We must fully commit ourselves to creating a model of sustainability that benefits our students, our school communities, and generations to come.”

“Blue Bird is recognized as the technology leader and innovator of all-electric school buses. We are thrilled to provide safe, reliable, and – above all – clean student transportation to the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation,” said Phil Horlock, CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “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.”

Keeping up with the latest innovations, Blue Bird electric buses come standard with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability. This bi-directional charging technology is more than a feature; it’s a forward-thinking strategy that may enable LAUSD to monetize its fleet effectively. During off-peak hours, especially summer and school holidays, excess energy stored in the school bus batteries could be sold back to electrical power companies, potentially turning a sizable profit for the district. Moreover, V2G programs are instrumental in balancing demands on the power grid, contributing to improved grid resiliency, which is crucial for California’s energy sustainability goals.

“LAUSD is making a monumental leap forward by committing to an all-electric future and providing a model for other school districts of how a transition of this size can take place,” said John Landherr, President & CEO of A-Z Bus Sales. “We’re proud to have helped LAUSD over the years transition from diesel to alternative fuel CNG and propane buses, and as the No. 1 dealer in electric school buses nationwide, our team is positioned to now support the district at all levels with their EV transition.”

Blue Bird’s commitment to leading the electric school bus industry recently reached a notable landmark with the delivery of its 1500th electric school bus. This milestone celebrates Blue Bird’s widespread impact, with its zero-emission vehicles now operating across 41 U.S. states, including the LAUSD’s forthcoming fleet. In response to the rising demand for clean student transportation, Blue Bird has made significant investments to enhance its production capabilities.

The opening of their new Electric Vehicle (EV) Build-up Center stands as a testament to this commitment. This facility is not just a manufacturing hub; it represents a bold step towards a greener future in student transit, with the capability to build up to 5,000 electric school buses annually in the long term. This proactive expansion signifies Blue Bird’s dedication to environmental stewardship and provides a scalable solution for school districts nationwide aiming to reduce their carbon footprint.

Blue Bird is electrifying school bus fleets across the country. In September 2023, the company delivered 13 of its all-electric school buses to Bowling Green Independent Schools in Kentucky, as one example.