It Takes a Village to Make a Bus, and That’s a Very Good Thing

Earlier this year, the city of Gardena took five of its old, fossil fuel-driven buses off the street, sent them 60 miles away and waited. A few months later and almost like magic, the first of the buses rolled back into town looking brand new and quietly gliding along on a clean energy all-electric power train.

The “magic” was done by workers at the Complete Coach Works (CCW) assembly plant in Riverside. There, the buses were overhauled all the way down to the chassis level. The gasoline-hybrid engines, transmission and associated parts were gutted and replaced with a battery-powered zero-emission propulsion system, new upgraded interiors were installed, and the exteriors were revamped with a modern look and design.


The work was done by CCW’s diverse workforce. The plant takes pride in employing people from various ethnicities and backgrounds. Of its 334 employees, 65 percent are minorities.

“A vast majority of our employees came here with little or no formal training within the transportation industry,” said CCW Sales Manager Ryne Shetterly. “But we have a series of excellent training programs that provided the skills they needed for the workforce we needed.”

Gardena’s bus overhaul is being made possible by a $2.7 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program invests up to $100 million annually for technology to reduce California’s reliance on fossil fuels, curtail greenhouse gas emissions and meet clean air standards.

Gardena’s GTrans public transportation agency is conducting the pilot program to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of converting a few buses before committing its 57-vehicle fleet of gasoline-hybrid buses to run on a variety of alternative fuel sources.

Gardena is an ethnically mixed city with about 62,000 residents, and all of the newly refurbished busses will operate on routes serving economically disadvantaged communities, said GTrans Director Ernie Crespo.

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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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