Students could soon be riding battery-powered buses back and forth to school

Taft City School District students may soon be riding back and forth to school on electric buses.

The District is hoping to get up to four of the electric vehicles for short-distance trips free through a state program and with the buses funding to build the infrastructure to charge them.

The District is also seeking another large diesel for longer out-of-town trips.
The Board of Trustees last week approved a resolution to apply for the electric buses through the California Energy Commission School Bus Replacement Program which offers grants to replace old diesel buses with new, cleaner running electric vehicles.

Tommy Aguilera, the District's director of maintenance, operations and transportation, said he got to check out the electric buses at the Kern County Superintendent of School office recently.

He said they ride just like diesel buses.

"You didn't feel any difference," Aguilera said. "We took it out on the freeway, we took it up hill."

Each bus the district receives comes with $60,000 funding towards a charging station for the buses. The electric buses do have a limited range of about 100 miles per charge, Aguilera told the Board, making them impractical for round trips to Bakersfield and trips with sports teams, but they will work fine for in town, including the Valley Acres and Dustin Acres routes.

The District is also applying for a grant to purchase a new diesel bus through another program.