BELLFLOWER – Bellflower Unified School District will receive more than half a million dollars to buy two electric school buses and charging stations under a South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) program that will strengthen the District’s already environmentally friendly bus fleet.

The District is one of 16 districts and two charter schools to share $8.8 million, intended to fund 33 buses and the necessary charging stations. Bellflower Unified’s $536,000 grant includes $496,000 for two zero-emission buses and $40,000 for charging stations.

“Bellflower Unified is thrilled to be included in this generous AQMD program, which will assist us in serving students even as it bolsters our environmentally friendly approach to transportation that limits release of harmful emissions,” Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said. “This is precisely the kind of layered civic service that plays such a key role in how we educate our students.”

Bellflower Unified has a fleet of 28 buses, including 26 powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Thirteen of the CNG buses are 14 years old, 11 are 13 years old, one is 12 years old and one was purchased this year. The District also has a diesel-powered bus it is looking to replace under a different AQMD program and an 18-year-old gas-powered bus.

Electric buses typically travel 60 miles or farther on a single charge and, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), should be less expensive to maintain than diesel buses.

Most of the District buses travel routes of 40 to 60 miles a day.

To obtain the funds, the District must place its bus order with a vendor and apply for $220,000 in related funding from the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project run by CARB. After the buses are purchased, the District will fund additional improvements, including wheelchair lifts. The new vehicles are expected to be in service in spring 2018.