The NAPA Valley Unified School District (NAPA) in California has purchased the nation's first NEXBUS, the only hybrid electric Type A school bus available in North America. NEXBUS is produced by Collins Bus Corporation and features Azure Dynamics Balance Hybrid Electric drive train, which is considered an ideal application for the frequent starts and stops, significant idle time and clean-air needs of school service.
"Our distribution strategy has been to partner with the best-in-class vehicle providers," said Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO. "Collins is the clear leader in the Type A School Bus market and has over 70 dealers throughout the United States and Canada. Collins is aggressively supporting the NEXBUS with our Balance Hybrid Electric technology, which is a clear indication that the product fulfills the customer's need and is poised to extend Azure's momentum into the school bus market."
NAPA Valley Unified School District was a likely recipient of the first bus based on its long history of advanced technology and alternative fuel / energy adoption. The district has won numerous environmental awards including the first ever School Transportation News 'Green Fleet Award' in 2008.
"We operate a number of Type A buses. Until now, those buses have all been diesel because there just weren't alternative energy options in the class," said Ralph Knight, NAPA's Director of Transportation. "We've only recently taken possession of the NEXBUS, but we're already impressed. We like the availability of variable seating to accommodate up to three wheelchair positions and we're eager to reap the operational cost and environmental benefits."
NAPA plans to put the NEXBUS in use for special needs transportation where it will have a busy schedule and the district can realize the full benefits of the technology. "NAPA has previous experience with Azure technology when we used Solectria's (Azure's predecessor company) full electric drive technology on a larger bus. That bus ran for three and a half years without a single down day, so we're hoping for similar success this time around," said Knight.
Collins has aggressively promoted the NEXBUS including at the recent School Transportation News expo in Reno, Nevada where two of the vehicles were shown with one bus offering ride and drive experiences to dozens of interested school fleet managers. Additionally, the NEXBUS is the subject of a Collins advertising campaign entitled, "Yellow Goes Green".
The bus was delivered via A-Z Bus Sales, Inc in Colton, Ca. NAPA received funding support from Prop 1B and from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
For more information on Azure Dynamics and its Balance Hybrid Electric product, please visit www.azuredynamics.com.