Statement: California’s kids breathe easier: Gov. Newsom proposes funding for 3000 new electric school buses and charging infrastructure

Media Contacts
Sander Kushen

Former Consumer Advocate, CALPIRG


New zero-emission school buses would promote clean air and a livable climate

CALPIRG Education Fund

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday a proposal to invest $1.5 billion to support school transportation programs, which could fund as many as 3000 electric school buses along with the charging infrastructure to support them. If approved by the legislature, this would be a significant increase from last year’s budget, which included money for 1000 new electric school buses. This follows a federal investment of $2.5 billion in all-electric school buses from the recently-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

In California, nearly 25,000 school buses drive more than 230 million miles every year. The state is already a leader in the transition to electric school buses, with some districts like LAUSD committed to a 100% electric fleet, and Twin Rivers Unified boasting the largest fleet of electric school buses in the country. This added funding sets the stage for California to become a national leader in electric school bus adoption.

Despite the progress California has made toward electrifying fleets, the majority of school buses still run on diesel, a fossil fuel that increases global warming emissions and has been linked to several serious health risks, including increased rates of respiratory illness and cancer. The risks are especially pronounced in children and have also been linked to poor academic performance. Each electric school bus can save school districts nearly $2,000 a year in fuel costs and $4,400 a year in reduced maintenance costs.

The funding is part of Gov. Newsom’s budget proposal and still needs to be approved by the legislature.

Sander Kushen, CALPIRG’s State Advocate, issued the following statement:

“Parents and children are still navigating the pandemic, and they shouldn’t have to worry about added health risks from their ride to school. Every time we put our kids on a diesel bus, we’re putting them at risk. Electric school bus technology is here and it’s ready to roll, but we need to make sure that funding programs are in place to help our schools make the switch. Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget signals a cleaner and healthier future for Californians. Kids — and their parents — can breathe a little easier today.”

School board members are applauding this funding increase. Board Member Ortiz, who represents LAUSD’s 7th District thanked Governor Newsom for supporting and increasing electric bus funding in California, “to ensure our scholars have a safe, clean and worry-free ride to and from school.” She continued, “This is a necessary and critical step we needed to take in order to protect our scholars, our communities and our environment. I hope this is the first of many more bold investments to come.”

Learn more about CALPIRG’s “Electric Buses for California” campaign here.

Read our report: Accelerating the Transition to Electric School Buses