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Eco-Friendly: FUSD Transitioning to Electric and Low-Emission Bus Fleet
Posted 12/2/22
Electric buses parked at chargers

In October 2022, Fremont Unified School District’s Transportation Department took delivery of its 11th fully electric school bus, and is awaiting the arrival of three more in the coming weeks.

man standing in bus
Director of Transportation Ernest Epley on board the newest electric bus in the FUSD fleet.

These buses are critical to the District’s efforts to reduce its climate impact. 

“Our goal is to boost our effort toward zero/low emissions from our school buses,” said Director of Transportation Ernest Epley. “We believe it to be, quite literally, our path to the future.”

This move toward a greener, more climate-aware future is supported and directed by FUSD’s Board of Education. In February 2019, the Board adopted Resolution 021-1819, directing FUSD leadership to take action on climate change on matters within the purview of the District, including transportation. 

“Our district leadership is having conversations about how to leverage each decision to meet the long-term goals our Board has set for sustainability and reducing emissions,” said Superintendent CJ Cammack. “The work our Transportation team is doing to transition to electric buses is a great example of how we can continue to meet our students’ needs while reducing our climate impact.”

worker operating wheelchair lift on bus
This newest electric bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift.

This newest electric bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift, an important feature as the primary use of FUSD’s fleet is to transport students designated to receive transportation support as part of their Special Education services. FUSD also provides transportation services for field trips and other limited purposes.

The electric buses can be used for routes within a 80-100 mile range, saving the longer-range trips for compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, or diesel if needed. 

row of electric buses with chargers
A row of the earlier electric buses FUSD added to its fleet in 2020.

The first generation of electric buses FUSD received in 2020 take between 8-10 hours to charge, while the new buses are ready to go after a few hours on more powerful chargers. 

After installation of new chargers, the electric buses integrated seamlessly into the fleet, with the outstanding Transportation Department staff inspecting, servicing and driving the new vehicles as part of their everyday duties. 

technician under bus lifted for inspection
The Transportation Department routinely inspects and services the electric buses.

An FUSD bus driver familiar with the fleet said the electric buses are easy to use, and have good “giddy up and go.”

In all, FUSD operates 85 buses, with only four diesel buses remaining in the fleet. Including the three on the way, FUSD will have 14 electric buses. All other buses run on cleaner-burning CNG. 

Epley has set the “lofty goal” for the fleet to be 85% electric, 15% CNG within the next five years.

parking lot charging station with row of buses in background
Charging stations are ready for the delivery of three additional electric buses.

To date, all FUSD expenses for electric buses and supporting infrastructure (such as charging stations) have been fully funded by state grants. 

In addition to reducing emissions, these electric buses also generate funding for FUSD with every charge; the tailpipe emissions they prevent, as measured through metered chargers, generate carbon offset tax credits sold by a third party to high-producing greenhouse gas emitters.

“We have natural opportunities as equipment nears the end of its useful life, or as we negotiate new purchases and agreements, to make strategic moves that decrease our environmental impact while maintaining fiscal sustainability,” said Cammack. “Our dedicated staff are doing great work to develop short- and long-term plans that keep us moving in the right direction.”

Leaders across FUSD Business Services are keeping an eye out for future grants to electrify delivery trucks and smaller-motor tools, such as tractors, forklifts and mowers.

group of employees standing in front of bus
Some of the outstanding Transportation Department staff next to the newest electric bus.

For now, Epley is continuing to pursue grant opportunities as they open, hoping to leverage both federal funds through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state funds administered through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to replace the remaining diesel buses and make further steps toward fleet electrification and sustainability.

The Transportation Department is hiring! Click here to view all open positions in FUSD.

“It is important to us that we continue to ensure that Fremont Unified is among the leading districts in the Bay Area when it comes to converting our school bus fleet to zero/low emission vehicles,” said Epley. “Our staff, community, and most importantly our students deserve clean air.”

More Eco-Friendly news is posted on our website. Look out for more stories and updates on the amazing work being done in our school community. 


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