School District in Navajo Nation is Transitioning to Electric School Buses

Chinle Unified School District Starts Transitioning Diesel Bus Fleet to Zero-emission Vehicles

MACON, Ga. (Sept. 15, 2022) – Blue Bird Corporation (Nasdaq: BLBD), the leader in electric and low-emission school buses, delivered the first of three electric school buses to Chinle Unified School District (USD) in Arizona, the largest school district in the Navajo Nation. Chinle USD expands its all Blue Bird diesel-powered bus fleet with zero-emission vehicles to put student and community health first while reducing operating costs. Select Blue Bird customers reported an average of 14 cents per mile in energy costs for electric buses, compared to approx. Forty-nine cents per mile for their diesel buses.

Navajo youth entering the electric school bus

Blue Bird will provide its most advanced zero-emission school buses to Chinle USD. It includes two Blue Bird Vision and one Blue Bird All-American electric school bus. These first-rate electric vehicles (EVs) carry between 72 and 84 students for up to 120 miles on a single charge. Depending on the charging infrastructure, the buses take between three and eight hours to recharge fully.

Chinle USD is the largest school district in the Navajo Nation in both student count and geographic area. It serves 3,300 students in eight schools, including the largest reservation high school in the United States. School buses travel more than 6,000 miles on routes characterized by mostly unimproved roads each day. That’s as they pick up and safely transport students to and from schools.

Message from Chinle Unified School District Superintendant

“Beyond the potential that the electric school buses offer for cost efficiency and reducing our fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions, the impact that these EVs have on student learning and access to world experience are notable,” said Quincy Natay, superintendent of Chinle Unified School District. “Many of our students live in high poverty households and may not have even ridden in electric vehicles. Now, they get to ride to school on a state-of-the-art EV school bus. Our students are very curious, and our drivers have already begun explaining how the buses function differently from the previous diesel buses. Especially for children in remote communities, this is a great way to provide firsthand exposure to science, STEAM careers, environmental issues, and cutting edge technology.”

Funding Made Possible Through Grant

The school district received a Transportation Modernization Grant through A for Arizona. The grant makes it possible for the school district to upgrade its school bus fleet with three electric vehicles. A for Arizona is a non-profit organization working to advance student achievement in the state, especially in low-income communities.

“Students from low-income areas are disproportionately impacted by diesel pollution from school buses since the majority of students from related areas ride the bus to school. Zero-emission transportation means cleaner air to breathe and healthier students,” said Britton Smith, senior vice president of electrification and chief strategy officer of Blue Bird Corporation. “We have served Chinle USD for more than 30 years. We could not be more pleased to help the school district transition to electric buses and clean student transportation.”

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