Power to the Buses

Changing to a more sustainable lifestyle can happen “top-down” by edict from above – such as a corporate CEO – or “bottom up” via consumer pressure. The head of the postal service got money for new delivery trucks by promising they’d be electric – but – after he got his budget allocation, he bought gas-powered vehicles. Here’s a second attempt at a top-down move to increase our sustainability.

As postal trucks and school buses have short ranges, recharge speed isn’t an issue. Daily operating costs and annual maintenance costs are far less; air quality is higher.  Comments afterwards.


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US to invest $1bn in plan to move

from diesel to electric school buses


EPA says funds to be given to 280 school districts to ‘help secure

a healthier future where our children can breathe cleaner air’


Aliya Uteuova

The Guardian

Mon 8 Jan 2024


The US has announced nearly $1bn in grants to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric and lower-emitting vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency will disburse funds to 280 school districts serving 7 million children across the country in an effort to curb harmful air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA administrator, Michael Regan, said in a statement …


“Today we’re once again accelerating

the transition to electric and low-emis-

sion school buses in America, helping

to secure a healthier future where all

our children can breathe cleaner air.”


Diesel emissions have been linked to higher rates of asthma, cancer and school absenteeism. Communities of color and people living in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to suffer from higher rates of air pollution.

Eighty-six per cent of grant recipients are in school districts that serve low-income, rural and tribal communities, according to the EPA. The new funds mean so far nearly $2bn has been awarded to add about 5,000 clean buses to schools across the country. The program draws from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law that carved out $5bn to equip schools with clean buses over five years, and is part of a broader federal strategy that aims to spend 40% of investments in environmental justice communities.

But the Biden administration’s efforts to phase out diesel school buses could be stalled by the limited infrastructure that exists for charging electric vehicles. According to a recent report by EPA’s office of inspector general:


“The increased demand on utility

companies may impact the time-

liness of replacing diesel buses.”


Some states have also been pushing back on completely phasing out their diesel school fleets. In a letter to New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul, Republican senators expressed concern over the new state mandate that bans the purchase of diesel buses starting in 2027. Senator George Borrello said in a statement last month …


“School officials in my district are

all sounding the alarm about the

state’s unfunded electric bus man-

date and the crushing financial

costs it will mean for districts.”


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I really try to stay away from political biases, even in an election year. But providing cleaner air for our children, at a fraction of the operating and maintenance cost, should be a no-brainer. Many school districts transitioned their buses from diesel to CNG, which also lowered operating and maintenance costs, but they did need a facility that provided CNG.

Going electric, operating and maintenance costs are even lower. Air quality is even better. Engine noise is gone. And our electric grid already exists, as evinced by the growth of recharge stations. I recently looked up the cost of a recharge station for a nearby university. It was only $750. Instead of “crushing financial costs,” (for an effort that’s already been funded) or “sounding an alarm,” perhaps school officials should look at actual costs, then maybe celebrate savings. Adding D’s comments …


“We have said it before, and will say it again: Change is difficult. People will always find excuses of why not to do something.  But chances are, things will eventually change. The federal government is beginning the process of funding electric buses. More funding will come from the federal government and from states.  We do hope the initial buses will be in urban areas, to help reduce air pollution. And each of the school districts have maintenance buildings, and will soon be adding electric recharge stations.

“It is a fairly easy transition”

Comments are closed.