No parent wants to send their child to school on a bus that can harm their health—but that is exactly what is happening each and every day for the millions of children who ride diesel school buses.
Thankfully, there is a better way to get kids to and from school. Electric school buses have zero tailpipe emissions, lower operating costs, and lower maintenance costs. However, they do cost more than diesel buses up front and require the installation of vehicle-charging infrastructure, so to jumpstart the transition away from dirty diesel buses, we need government investments. That’s why Moms Clean Air Force advocated for, and celebrated, the unprecedented investment of $5 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed in November 2021, to support electric school buses.
Almost all our nation’s 480,000 iconic yellow school buses, which transport more than 20 million children each day, still run on dirty diesel engines, which means they emit harmful diesel pollution directly into the air precisely where children live, learn, and play. When children ride diesel buses, they breathe in toxic fumes that can harm not only their respiratory health, but their brain development as well. Diesel pollution is also linked to cancer. A rapid transition of our nation’s dirty diesel school buses to 100% electric-powered buses will help protect children from air pollution—and has the added benefit of reducing climate-harming carbon pollution.
Right now, EPA is finalizing details of the new Clean School Bus program, which will distribute $5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over the next five years. Those funds will go directly to school districts for the purchase of electric school buses and installation of the related charging infrastructure. The agency has committed to issuing details about the program and guidelines for how to apply for the money in April.
What can parents do to help school districts get ready for this new electric school bus funding? Step number one: Read up on electric school buses, learn about school transportation in your district, and reach out to your school district leaders to alert them to this upcoming opportunity.
Here are five resources you can use to get started on the road to electric school buses.
- EPA: EPA’s Clean School Bus program will distribute up to $5 billion over the next five years for electric school buses. Learn more about their program and how to get this funding on the EPA website. Sign up for Clean School Bus Program news here, so you can get updates from EPA on the funding program; rollout is expected in April 2022. Sign up for future webinars, and learn from past events, here.
- Alliance for Electric School Buses: The Alliance for Electric School Buses is a coalition of organizations, including Moms Clean Air Force, whose mission is to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet and prioritize the highest-need school districts in the most polluted areas—which, as data shows, are disproportionately low-income communities and communities of color—while creating good-paying careers in manufacturing and deployment. The Alliance has compiled several key resources for school districts and advocates.
- World Resources Institute: The World Resources Institute (WRI) has an Electric School Bus Initiative that provides several valuable resources and is supporting technical assistance for schools. See their webinar series for a range of perspectives and advice on electric school buses. This report, from February 2022, shows where electric school buses are currently in use or on order, in every state across the country.
- VEIC: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) is a nonprofit with experience implementing electric school bus programs. Their electric school bus resources include several fact sheets that can help school districts and advocates get started on making the switch to electric buses.
- CALSTART: If you are looking for a simple resource to share with your school district officials about electric school buses, see this fact sheet from the transportation nonprofit CALSTART: Get on the Bus: A 7-Step Checklist for School Districts to Transition to Electric School Buses.
Image via Thomas Built Buses