District welcomes electric buses


BRAND NEW BUSES — Palo Alto Unified School District’s new electric buses patiently await their first rides next fall. The buses will need to pass through a trial to ensure safety and determine their battery life. “We are going to be looking at the distance and the amount of time we can drive the bus before we have to put it back on the charger,” Chow said. “So it’ll be a learning experience.” Photo: Lizzy Williams

Lizzy Williams

Two new all-electric school buses will begin service for the Palo Alto Unified School District at the start of the 2023-24 school year to promote sustainable transportation. 

The buses arrived on April 14, according to an April 21 Superintendent’s Update. They are currently in the process of being certified and tested. 

Carolyn Chow, PAUSD’s chief business officer, said the buses were purchased through an environmental grant that PAUSD applied for in March 2021. 

“We applied for grants to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that would give us a grant to purchase two electric buses,” Chow said. “Then we would take two of our higher-polluting diesel buses out of commission.”

Before the buses will start to be used next fall, there will be a pilot period during which drivers will need to be trained and the battery life of the buses will need to be determined. 

“The performance of the bus, the range of the bus and the frequency of charging are all things we’re going to learn as we get the buses into operation and really start using them and testing them,” Chow said. 

Students can also look forward to the modern features that the buses have.

“We’re excited that it has all the latest safety features, and it has air conditioning,” Chow said.