Chinle Unified School District receives first electric school bus

Blue Bird delivered its first electric school bus to Chinle Unified School District in Arizona, the largest school district in the Navajo Nation. (Photo/Blue Bird)

Blue Bird delivered its first electric school bus to Chinle Unified School District in Arizona, the largest school district in the Navajo Nation. (Photo/Blue Bird)

CHINLE, Ariz. — Chinle Unified School District has received its first electric school bus.

Blue Bird Corporation, a producer of electric and low-emission school buses, has delivered the first of three electric school buses to Chinle Unified School District (CUSD) .

CUSD is the largest school district in the Navajo Nation. The district expects to expand its diesel-powered bus fleet with zero-emission vehicles.

Blue Bird said customers report an average 14 cents per mile in energy costs for electric buses, compared to approx. 49 cents per mile for their diesel buses.

The zero emission buses also provide better air quality for students.

“Students from low-income areas are disproportionately impacted by diesel pollution from school buses, since the majority of students from related areas ride the bus to school,” said Britton Smith, senior vice president of electrification and chief strategy officer of Blue Bird Corporation. “Zero-emission transportation means cleaner air to breathe and healthier students”

Blue Bird will provide its most advanced zero-emission school buses to the district, including two Blue Bird Vision and one Blue Bird All American electric school bus.

These first-rate electric vehicles carry between 72 and 84 students for up to 120 miles on a single charge, the company said.

Depending on the charging infrastructure, the buses take between three and eight hours to recharge fully.

CUSD is the largest school district on the Navajo Nation in both student count and geographic area. It serves 3,300 students in eight schools, including the largest reservation high school in the United States.

School buses travel more than 6,000 miles on routes characterized by mostly unimproved roads each day, as they pick up and safely transport students to and from schools.

“Beyond the potential that the electric school buses offer for cost efficiency and reducing our fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions, the impact that these EV’s have on student learning and access to world experience is notable,” said Quincy Natay, superintendent of Chinle Unified School District. “Many of our students live in high poverty households and may not have even ridden in electric vehicles. Now, they get to ride to school on a state of the art EV school bus. Our students are very curious, and our drivers have already begun explaining how the buses function differently than the previous diesel buses. Especially for children in remote communities, this is a great way to provide firsthand exposure to science, STEAM careers, environmental issues, and cutting edge technology.”

The school district received a Transportation Modernization Grant through A for Arizona to upgrade its school bus fleet with three electric vehicles. A for Arizona is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing student achievement in the state, especially in low-income communities.

“We have served Chinle USD for more than 30 years,” Smith said. “We could not be more pleased to help the school district transition to electric buses and clean student transportation.”

Information provided by Blue Bird Corporation.

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