Electric School Buses…Slowly but surely becoming a reality!

By Joseph Batory

Electric school buses may seem like some futuristic dream.

Currently, 20 million USA students are transported by nearly 500,000 school buses each day.  Most of these buses are diesel and are therefore energy inefficient and contribute greatly to the emissions of damaging pollutants into the air we breathe.

At present, electric school buses are quite costly and rare. But government, the private sector, environmental advocates, and school districts are beginning to advocate for electric school buses in the name of environmental sanity.

It has been known for years that  electric school buses emit no fumes and are more efficient and quieter. Maintenance costs and per mile driving costs are much lower than the diesel option. In addition, electric school buses can provide rolling batteries that can support the grid and store emergency power for school districts and communities.

Not surprisingly,  California, which usually leads the nation, is among several other states (Colorado and Virginia) already conducting pilot programs for electric school buses. And at least 15 utility companies across 14 states are exploring the possibilities of electric school buses to create critically needed power storage.

And the most significant news is that on October 26, the Biden administration unveiled the first phase of initiatives (created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021) to confront climate change.

As part of these initial awards, the EPA will provide $1 billion in rebates to 389 school districts across America. This will support the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be totally electric.  This is far from solving the school bus pollution problem, but progress is finally happening!

Transitioning to an electric school bus fleet nationwide would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 million tons per year, according to a study by the non-profit Public Interest Research Group.

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