another five on the way. That’s out of the total 235 new propane school buses that South Carolina is funding through the Volkswagen settlement. “The state pays for the fuel, we just had to get the in-

frastructure together, deal with the fire marshal, identify some land,” and build a fueling station that includes security and meets certain specifications, explained El- dridge Black, Beaufort County’s transportation director. He shared that he also wants to add electric buses to the mix and is applying for grants, including an electric vehicle community partnership grant from the state. The district was passed by during a previous state grant program for an electric bus, but Black is determined to keep trying. “I’m not sure how many we’ll be able to get, the money

up front is pretty steep,” Black said of electric buses. “We’d have to move some money around, but we’ll try to figure that out.” He noted that the transition is complicated by the fact

that the district bought new diesel buses in 2017, so re- placing a relatively new fleet is hard to justify financially. “We’ll just try to transition a few buses every year,” he said. Meanwhile, the Pittsburg Unified School District west

of Stockton and south of Sacramento replaced its con- ventional diesel buses with seven renewable diesel buses two years ago, adding to a fleet that includes 17 pro- pane and four electric buses. Matt Belasco, the district’s director of maintenance, operations, and transportation, said that while Pittsburg received no grants or incentives for the renewable diesel buses, the reduced emissions, cheaper fuel, and reduced maintenance have paid off. “We haven’t looked back since,” said Belasco. “There’s

no fouling of plugs or gumming of injectors, and it’s extended the amount of time between when we had to clean particulate traps.” Belasco added that the district is ordering an addi-

tional three propane and three electric buses. Pittsburg USD prides itself on having a “green fleet.” But Belasco explaned that it needs the renewable diesel for longer routes and trips that the electric bus range couldn’t han- dle. His department often transports students to football games 75 miles away, for example, and can’t count on being able to charge during the game. “The [charging] infrastructure just hasn’t caught up

with actual demand,” he noted, even in California where charging buildout has been relatively robust. ●

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