Ditching diesel isn’t just good for public health and the environment — it’s affordable

Media Contacts
Emily Rusch

Vice President and Senior Director of State Offices, The Public Interest Network

New report lays out the case for switching to all-electric buses

CALPIRG Education Fund

Oakland, CA — Getting rid of that black cloud of exhaust behind our buses, and the negative health and environmental effects that come along with it, is easier than it may seem. According to a new report from CALPIRG Education Fund and Environment California Research and Policy Center, electric buses are not only cleaner and healthier than diesel buses, but transit agencies and school districts have many affordable options at their disposal to adopt them.

“California has already made great progress on switching away to electric buses, but each day, millions of Californians, and millions of our children, still get on diesel-powered buses that emit toxic fumes that make them sick,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG Education Fund. “We have to speed up the adoption of zero-tailpipe emissions, all-electric buses. We all deserve cleaner air.”

Electric buses have taken off in California faster than anywhere else in the country. Many California transit agencies and school districts are already running electric buses, and sixteen transit agencies already have commited to transitioning their entire fleets to zero-emissions models. Still, the vast majority of buses on the roads in California are not electric.

Many transit agencies and school districts say it’s just too expensive to switch to electric buses. But that’s not true anymore. The new report, Paying for Electric Buses: Financing Tools for Cities and Agencies to Ditch Diesel, finds that there are several funding and financing options available to help agencies and school districts pay for the upfront cost, many of which can be used in tandem with one another.

“Climate change is accelerating and transportation is now the biggest climate polluter. Switching to all-electric buses will clean the air we breathe and reduce the risks of global warming. School buses and commuter buses should pave the way to a safer climate for their riders.” Said Dan Jacobson, state director of Environment California Research and Policy Center.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is considering a rule that would require all transit buses in California to be zero-emissions by 2040. CALPIRG and Environment California are also urging school districts, including Los Angeles Unified School district, which transports 60,000 students daily, to accelerate the transition to electric school buses. CARB estimates that 65 percent of the 25,000 California school buses currently in operation are running on diesel, despite the harmful health effects of diesel pollution on children.

“With over 65,000 students suffering from asthma and respiratory health issues, the LA Unified School District can improve the health and academic performance of these students by switching to 100% clean all- electric school buses, said Adrian Martinez, an Earthjustice attorney and member of the LA County Electric Bus Coalition. “It’s time for school districts like LAUSD to electrify their fleets and provide students with the clean, healthy and quiet commute they deserve.”

For agencies and districts that need to raise additional revenue to make electric bus purchases, the report recommends issuing municipal bonds and implementing local option taxes, while also seeking out available federal, state, or local grant and incentive programs. In particular, right now up to $130 million from the VW settlement funds is available for zero-emission shuttle, transit, and school buses.

“We have the financial tools we need to purchase electric buses,” said Rusch. “It is time to ditch our old, dirty diesel models and get on the road to a cleaner and healthier California.”

staff | TPIN

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