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The Mirror

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The student website of Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The landscape of student transportation is undergoing a transformative change in LAUSD. 

Spearheaded by the district’s commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility, the recent initiatives to electrify its bus fleet stands as a testament to a brighter, greener future for the city’s communities.

Paving the way with bold initiatives, LAUSD is setting a pioneering example for school districts across the country to emulate.

LAUSD’s Director of Transport Mr. Daniel Kang sheds light on the groundbreaking endeavor.

“This is for all of the students, all the way down to Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK),” Kang said. “This is for our future, and I believe that I am a steward of this responsibility of making LAUSD and our local communities much safer and livable for our future.”

Assistant Principal Maria Cristina Philips thinks that while LAUSD vies to move forward with being more environmentally sustainable, there are many more steps needed to be taken in order to counteract the harm done to the environment.

“Within a thousand feet of freeways, dust is coming into people’s houses,” Philips said. “Not just the emissions from the tailpipes of vehicles, but the ground matter that comes up off of freeways, which comes from the brake systems. It’s the same for electric vehicles as it is for vehicles with fossil fuel, and it causes elevated levels of lung disease for people who live within a thousand feet of busy freeways.”

She emphasized the need for new and innovative brake systems that would curb particulate distribution, highlighting the next step that LAUSD should take in order to be more environmentally friendly.

“LAUSD, as the second largest school district in the nation, should do everything it can to do its part to be carbon neutral and should support the state of California’s goals,” Philips said. 

In tune with LAUSD’s Strategic Plan for 2022-26, led by Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, the district has initiated the installation of 18 new electric school bus chargers at the Gardena Bus Yard. 

This is part of a broader strategy to adopt sustainable modes of transportation, keeping in line with the district’s resolution to achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2030 and in all energy sectors by 2040.

Kang emphasized the utility of the newly installed chargers.

“The theory is that school buses will be plugged into the grid and will provide that power back to the local community, which gives the school district an opportunity to bring revenue in,” Kang said.

Kang proceeded to elaborate on how plugging buses back into the grid can be profitable for the school district. Buses will be charged during hours where electricity rates are least expensive, then will feed remaining electricity back to the grid once they have made their routes during hours where electricity is expensive.

Historically, the Gardena Bus Yard has been the district’s largest transportation hub, serving over 8,672 students across 296 schools with 371 buses. Of these, 270 buses are powered by compressed natural gas and 75 by propane.

The move to introduce electric chargers is a radical shift, and the District plans to go further by committing to complete electrification of the Sun Valley Bus Yard by 2026 with the addition of 180 new electric buses and chargers.

“We’re up for the challenge and we don’t want to sit back and wait, we have to get ahead of the game,” Kang said. “Even though this is considered a new frontier, we have a lot of motivated leaders inside the district.”

These changes not only promote district-wide sustainable practices but also provide benefits for students who rely on school buses for transportation. 

“The buses are quieter and there’s less vibration, so it’s a much more pleasant ride for the students who take the bus,” Kang said, highlighting the direct effects that new electric buses could have on students.

Senior Elizabeth Egu expresses her anticipation for the district-wide rollout of electric buses.

“As an avid bus napper, I look forward to being able to nap without having my head vibrating against the seat the whole time,” she said.

While the day where students can ride a bus and know that they are actively reducing carbon emissions is yet to come, if students actively advocate for school bus reforms, this can expedite the electrification program. Kang emphasizes his belief in the community’s role, down to the youngest of its members, in fostering a sustainable future.

Although there are not many platforms that allow students to advocate for these reforms, students can write emails to Superintendent Carvalho and Chief Eco-sustainability Officer Christos Chrysiliou.

“We need all your continued support, even the questions and motivations from our elementary students,” he said. “It counts, and it matters.” 

Furthermore, he underscores the often-overlooked influence of younger generations in bringing about change. 

“Children do have an impact, even in their homes and even in their schools,” Kang said. “We need their motivation. At the end of the day, they are our customers, and that’s who we’re doing this for.”

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Fall 2023 print edition. This is an uncut version.

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