Jenna Donaldson | staff writer
USD 329 received a grant worth almost $800,000 to cover the cost of two new electric buses.
The grant is funded through the Lion Electric school bus program. According to USD 329 transportation director Clint Thompson, an average school bus runs $80,000 new and these ones are about $375,000 new. “It allows us to get our foot in the door and have them without having to come out of pocket for us. We’ll have basically $750,000 worth of equipment that would be free with zero cost to our school,” Thompson said.
One challenge the district faces with transportation is the age of its fleet. “Instead of coming out of pocket for five different buses at eighty to ninety thousand a piece, this gives us the chance to eliminate some of those fees and get some new units in,” Thompson said.
USD 329 had to meet several requirements in order to receive the grant. “To apply for the grant you have to have buses that you can submit, donate, or scrap over for the next year,” Thompson said. Once the application is done, the district can go through the process of getting the equipment.
“We will be donating two buses that are currently not in our fleet. Once we get our units, we’ll let them take the old ones. We’ll get two working ones for two scrap ones.” Thompson said.
The new buses will require different maintenance than our current ones. Outside of charging them daily, there would be no transmission and oil changes. The grant does include funding for the required charging stations as well.
The new buses should be coming as fast as this spring or summer. “There’s a timeline to deliver as late as 2024. We’ve been able to expedite the process through some stock units in California. If we’re really lucky, at the end of November,” Thompson said.
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