GILROY, Calif. — Gilroy Unified School District handed over an old diesel school bus and got it back as a converted electric school bus.
At a ceremony on Tuesday, district officials, clean-air advocates and other dignitaries gathered at the Gilroy district's transportation facility to kick off a pilot project for the electric bus. Gilroy Mayor Don Gage performed the ribbon cutting to launch the bus.
In addition to the conversion from diesel to electric, the district was supplied with a solar array to help generate electricity to power the bus.
Gilroy Superintendent Dr. Deborah Flores conveyed the district’s appreciation for being selected for the project.
“We are so pleased to be able to help the environment and also to help our budget,” Flores said.
The project has been spearheaded by nonprofit organization Breathe California of the Bay Area. The major funder is The Health Trust.
“I have long imagined a world where clean, zero-emission vehicles would take children to school ... and now that vision is a reality,” said Margo Sidener, president and CEO of Breathe California of the Bay Area. “The addition of solar fueling makes this a 'Zero Emissions Squared' project — zero-emission vehicle times zero-emission fuel — for cleaner air for all.”
Edward Monfort, president of Adomani Inc., invented the bus conversion that was introduced at Gilroy.
“Our conversion of this 50-passenger full-size school bus proves that Adomani is a company that can convert vehicles into all-electric vehicles no matter what size or type of vehicle you have,” Monfort said.
The company had many more hurdles to pass in working with a school bus, including the many imposed by the California Highway Patrol that are designed to keep kids safe.
"Working with sports cars and heavy-duty trucks has its rewards, but transforming the school transportation industry through zero-emission vehicles has to be one of the most meaningful projects of my life,” Monfort added.
Green Transportation Workforce Development will provide training for school districts that participate in the Zero Emissions Squared project. The training will cover such topics as the use of the vehicles in daily service, maintenance and repair, and infrastructure.
“The final, and perhaps most important, component of the Zero Emissions Squared project is making it affordable,” said Bob Garzee, the overall project manager. “Although most customers prefer to go green, it ultimately comes down to getting a good price, arranging financing and getting a good return on investment.”
Garzee said that in addition to Adomani's competitive cost for the conversion to electric and the cost reductions from using electricity and solar power, there are operational savings, such as lower maintenance costs. He added that there is also $200 million of financing available to school districts involved in the project.