Monday, March 19 , 2018, 3:06 pm | Fair 67º


Ventura District Rolls Out Plug-In Hybrid School Bus

The CEC of Santa Barbara leads the funding effort for the electric bus — the first in Southern California

Ventura Unified School District students will now ride around in a state-of-the-art, plug-in hybrid electric school bus — the first in Southern California.

The new bus replaces a polluting 1977 model, and is one of the first commercially available plug-in hybrids. The bus was unveiled Tuesday by local elected officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and news conference.

Plug-in hybrids are like super-efficient regular hybrid vehicles, but with larger batteries, advanced electronics and a capacity to plug in to the grid, allowing for the vehicles to partially run on clean electricity. Electric motors are as much as three times as efficient as internal combustion engines and can be powered by renewable energy. Thus a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle that parks near and draws power from a building with solar panels can literally be “driving on sunshine.”

“We are thrilled to be the first district in Southern California to have a plug-in hybrid bus,” said Dr. Trudy Arriaga, superintendent of the Ventura Unified School District. “The bus reflects our commitment to being a green school district, as we ensure safe and healthy learning environments for our students. Ventura Unified School District is on the cutting edge of providing safe, healthy and environmentally sound transportation to our students.”

The new bus is a result of a nationwide initiative called the Plug-In Hybrid Electric School Bus Project.

The Community Environmental Council, based in Santa Barbara, applied for funding through the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District.

“While school buses are first to the market, consumer plug-in hybrid cars will soon be available from many manufacturers,” said Michael Chiacos, transportation specialist for the Community Environmental Council. “Plug-in hybrids and electric cars are the largest revolution in a century of vehicles. As electric motors are three times as efficient as gasoline motors, and can be powered by renewable electricity, plug-in cars will help us transition to a future free from dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

Brian Brennan, a member of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District board and Ventura City Council, also praised the new bus.

“We are excited to support those technologies that improve air quality and fuel economy, reduce global warming gas emissions and decrease our dependence on imported oil,” he said. “Hybrid passenger vehicles are fairly common these days, and this lithium-ion battery powered plug-in hybrid school bus is an important next step toward promoting the next generation of more efficient and less polluting vehicles. Hybrids for buses and trucks are especially needed since they emit about 34 percent of the total vehicle ozone-precursor emissions.”

— Michael Chiacos is an energy program transportation specialist for the Community Environmental Council.

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