Boston takes its first step toward all-electric school buses by 2030

New electric school buses will reduce air pollution and promote healthier neighborhoods in the city.

Electric school buses charging
Lion Electric | Used by permission

The City of Boston received its first two electric school buses on Monday, taking its first steps to fully electrify the city’s school bus fleet by 2030. This delivery is the first of 20 electric school buses to be deployed this academic year.

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) fleet, consisting of 620 school buses, transports 21,500 students to 242 sites every school day. Just under half of the existing BSP fleet runs on diesel. The deployment of 20 new electric school buses will serve 42 schools, providing an estimated 2,561 students with a healthier, cleaner, and quieter ride to school.

Electric school buses are better for students’ health and for the climate than their diesel counterparts. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative health effects of diesel exhaust, especially when it comes to asthma. Exposure to diesel pollution has also been shown to have an impact on academic performance.

Greenhouse gas emissions from BPS school bus travel make up 11% of the city government’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2016, BPS has opted to replace diesel buses with buses that run on liquid propane, but swapping out one fossil fuel for another has only resulted in only modest improvements to air quality and emissions.

The financing for these buses was made possible through a combination of funds from the BPS operating budget and the American Rescue Plan Act. The City also plans to use funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and Inflation Reduction Act to purchase additional electric buses in the future.

Last year, the EPA awarded over $965 million in rebates through the 2022 Clean School Bus Program. Although Boston applied for 25 buses from the EPA, the city was not awarded funding through the program’s lottery selection process. However, five Massachusetts school districts were awarded funding, bringing a total of 76 electric school buses to the state and replacing existing diesel school buses in Fall River, New Bedford, Lawrence, the Upper Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical School District, and the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative.

Laura Davis
Laura Davis

Former Transform Transportation, Advocate, PIRG


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