Colusa Unified deploys new electric passenger bus

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It’s pretty common knowledge that mixing blue and yellow make green, and that formula seems to hold true even when it comes to energy-efficient school buses.

Colusa Unified School District officials last week unveiled to the public its first new all electric, zero emission school bus – a bright yellow Lion C transport vehicle with blue trim to alert law enforcement and fire officials to its high-voltage equipment.

Driver Jamie Lay said the new 71-passenger Lion C is emission-free at the tailpipe, uses no fossil fuels, and is noise pollution–free as well.

The clatter of the large engine has been replaced by an electric motor that emits a slight whine as it propels down the street, and is equipped with bells and whistle alerts to displace the quiet when needed.

“It’s pretty neat,” Lay said. “It’s got over a 100-mile range.”

The $394,887 transport vehicle, funded entirely by a grant, is not only green, but will cost less money over its 12-year lifespan, compared to its standard diesel counterpart.

The cost to run the Lion C is about 14 cents per mile, compared to $4 per mile for diesel, Lay said. Annual maintenance is also lower, from $6,000 for the standard bus, to about $2,400 for the electric.

Because the upfront cost was funded by a grant, total cost to the district over the bus’ lifetime is expected to come in around $62,400, compared to $359,143 (including the $150,000 purchase price) for a diesel bus of similar size.

“It’s very exciting,” said School Board President Melissa Yerxa Ortiz. “We were very lucky to get it.”

The Lion C is the only all-electric Type C school bus that is manufactured in North America, and the body and chassis were specifically designed to deliver optimal performance, officials said.

California has mandated that by 2029, all new bus purchase must be electric, and all diesel buses must be replaced by 2040.

According to the manufacturer, the Lion C is equivalent to removing five vehicles from the road or eliminating 23 tons of green house gases.

The roomy interior and seat room also fits students from kindergarten all the way through high school, Lay said. ■