Mar 8, 2022
Imagine riding on a school bus with an engine that doesn’t roar like an old lion or stink like a diesel spill. Quieter, cleaner transportation is on the way for some kids as school districts roll out electric buses.
Around 25 million US students ride 480,000 buses to and from school daily. Nearly all of the buses run on diesel fuel. They emit more greenhouse gasses than other vehicles. The buses only get six miles per gallon of diesel. The air quality inside and around them is poor.
Not so with electric vehicles. The electric buses are cheaper to maintain, don’t pollute like the current buses, and are very quiet. However, the buses cost a lot. They cost at least twice as much as diesels. Schools also need the ability to charge them. That's stopped many school systems from buying them.
That’s starting to change. The Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package includes $5 billion for school buses. School districts are facing pressure from parents and activists to address children’s health concerns as well as the environment. So, they are coming up with funding on their own to buy more electric buses.
One school board in Maryland voted in 2021 to replace 25 diesel buses with electric ones. It's committed to swapping out its entire fleet through a lease program by 2035. California’s legislature has already paid for 1,167 electric buses. 1,000 more will be bought. In Florida, 12-year-old Holly Thorpe lobbied Miami-Dade Public Schools to apply for a state grant to purchase 50 electric buses. The school board got the grant.
Photo from lilpilot45 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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