Energy Commission Project Helps Transform Existing Buses

Old transit buses are getting new lives thanks to a project the California Energy Commission is supporting.

Complete Coach Works (CCW) brought a repowered bus to the Energy Commission headquarters earlier this week so staff could view and ride one. The Zero-Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) buses are all-electric and manufactured from existing buses to minimize emissions.

The company is a partner in a $2.7 million grant that the Energy Commission awarded to the City of Gardena's GTrans agency to conduct a battery-electric repower bus demonstration project on existing bus routes that serve economically disadvantaged communities in the city.

These buses are remanufactured in Riverside, California. The facility provides employment and 21st century skills training to “hard to employ” populations. CCW’s addition of the ZEPS product to its offerings has meant adding more than 50 employees.

The project is funded from the Energy Commission’s Alternative Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program provides up to $100 million annually for technology to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, curtail greenhouse gases and meet clean air standards.


Transit agencies have limited options for acquiring zero-emission buses since new battery-electric buses are expensive, costing as much as $1.2 million. One of GTrans’ priorities is repowering its existing fleet of gasoline-electric buses by 2022. The Energy Commission’s grant is enabling GTrans to evaluate a limited number of buses before committing to this technology for the remainder of the fleet.

Under the project, GTrans is repowering five transit buses and gathering economic and technical performance data that can be used to identify the challenges and solutions involved in deploying repowered buses. As of November, two of the buses will have undergone a complete overhaul at CCW’s Riverside facility and will be back in operation. Final delivery of all five buses will occur before the end of 2016.


It costs about $580,000 for CCW to refurbish each used transit bus into like-new vehicles with an all-electric powered drivetrain system. Doing so extends the service life of the buses to the same service life that a new bus would have while saving money in fuel and maintenance costs, according to the company.

CCW transforms them into ZEPS buses by dismantling the old ones to the chassis level and installing new parts and systems, including LED interior and exterior lighting, lightweight aluminum wheels, and composite flooring.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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