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chool buses powered by CNG make up a third of the fleet for Fremont Unified School District in northern California, even though the fuel is more expensive to run than diesel,


according to transportation director Charles Ott. Tat’s because state incentives supported the purchase of the district’s 26 CNG buses—and often covered the entire purchase price. “School transportation in California is underfunded.


So, to be honest, one huge factor is what fuel is being funded the best” by incentives, he explained. Deciding what fuels to use can be a complicated decision that involves the bus purchase price, fuel price, maintenance costs, safety considerations, parent and driver preferences, fueling infrastructure, available grants, and specifics of route geography and weather. Plus, the calculus is constantly shifting, as prices fluctuate for various fuels, technology evolves and incentives change.


Among other things, the VW Mitigation Trust


Fund is set to make electric or other cleaner fuels a more attractive choice in many states. Te settlement funds can be used to replace buses from 2009 or older, with each state designing its own program. Te states decide whether to incentivize options, including elec- tric, propane, CNG, and even today’s cleaner diesel. In Illinois, for example, about $1 million in VW settlement funds are available specifically to replace diesel with electric buses in the Chicago area. Indiana’s draft plan for the VW settlement proposes setting aside $2.85 million for electric school buses. In California, student transporters are competing for a share of $433 million for zero-emissions school buses. In Colorado, schools are eligible for reimbursement based on fuel type, with coverage of $200,000 per bus for electric, $50,000 for CNG and $30,000 for propane.


Diesel advocates say the fuel is as good as any other as a bridge to eventually realizing sustainable zero-emissions from school buses.


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