Legislators, advocates ‘ride and drive’ electric school bus around the capitol

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Supporters offer remarks, hold posters and ride an all-electric school bus to promote legislation that would transform California’s school transportation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —On Wednesday, legislators, environmental groups, business leaders and public health advocates celebrated electric school buses by riding one around the Capitol. At the event, CALPIRG, Lion Electric, Twin Rivers Unified School district, and others made the case for California’s state Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 2731, sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Ting. If passed, the bill would mandate that all school buses purchased after 2035 be all electric.

“Diesel school buses pollute our communities and expose our children to dangerous carcinogens on a daily basis,” said Assemblymember Ting at the event. “We can’t wait another 23 years for the state to fully transition to electric school buses. My legislation lets California pick up the pace in meeting its climate goals and enables our kids to breathe cleaner air sooner.”

Most school buses still run on diesel, a toxic pollutant that has been linked to several serioushealth risks, including increased rates of respiratory illness and cancer. Electric buses, on the other hand, provide a clean, healthy transportation alternative, and can save school districts money over the long run.

“Getting to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that kids will get sick. And why would we continue to use dirty diesel buses if they are making the climate crisis worse?” asked CALPIRG Advocate Sander Kushen. “This bill would set California on a greener and healthier path for our kids.”

The bill would provide school districts with several potential funding streams to pay for the electric school buses. Last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law allocated $5 billion to electric and zero-emission school buses across the country. California’s own budget for next year also includes funding for an additional 3,000 electric school buses along with the infrastructure to support them. And the new federal “Inflation Reduction Act,” if signed into law, would allocate another healthy dose of additional funding for electric school buses and infrastructure.

“We are glad to see bills like this that will push us towards a 100% clean fleet, said Ray Manalo, Fleet Manager for Twin Rivers Unified School District. “This is huge cost savings for the district. With our electric school buses, we’ve seen about an 80% savings in fuel and about 80% savings in maintenance costs.”

“Passing California’s Clean and Healthy School Bus Act will make it easier for school districts all over the state to make the switch to electric school buses and unlock the cost savings that come with them,” said Ryan Gallentine, transportation director with Advanced Energy Economy.  “Not only will the bill protect our kids from harmful diesel emissions, it will give the green light clean school bus and charging infrastructure manufacturers need to bring their cutting-edge technologies to California ​and more rapidly reduce the costs of owning or leasing zero-pollution buses. Paired with $1.5 billion in recent state funding and new federal investments, AB 2731 will accelerate California’s path toward healthy school transportation so our communities can breathe the clean air they deserve.”

“If this bill passes, it will be a win-win-win,” said Kushen. “Kids, schools and the environment all will benefit from clean electric transportation to and from school every day.”

AB 2731 now sits in the Senate Appropriations Committee. It will need to be passed by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become law.

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