The bipartisan federal infrastructure bill under consideration in the US House could mean billions of dollars for electric school buses. A large federal investment is probably the only way Georgia’s districts could afford it.
“This is important not only for the health of our children who take the buses, but also for the decarbonization of the entire transportation sector in the United States,” said Anne Blair of the Electrification Coalition advocacy group. . She was speaking at a virtual roundtable on the electrification of school buses.
Cost is definitely a factor, however. Electric school buses cost over $ 400,000, about four times the cost of a diesel-powered bus.
“While there are savings throughout the life of the bus, the higher initial cost can really be a deterrent,” Blair said.
State Representative Teri Anulewicz said districts in Georgia – already strapped for cash – will need help making the transition.
“We’ve had districts that have bought an electric school bus here and there, they might have one or two in a fleet,” she said.
But to make a real difference, she says, it’s imperative that Congress steps in and help cover the costs.
“If you get this grant, it is a total game changer for the way we bring electric school buses online in Georgia,” Anulewicz said.
Anulewicz says she is impressed that the federal dollars include money to build electric vehicle infrastructure such as charging stations and staff training.
EPA uses $ 17 million US Rescue Plan funds to offer discounts on the purchase of electric school buses.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure bill passed with bipartisan support in the US Senate, but has since been blocked in the House. It is investing $ 5 billion for zero emission buses.
But that’s only a fraction of what some Washington DC lawmakers want to spend to get even more diesel-powered school buses off the road. The senses. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia co-sponsored the Clean Travel for Children Act from 2021.
“When you breathe in diesel exhaust fumes they go all over your body and affect every organ,” said Dr Anne Mellinger-Birdsong of the Mothers & Others for Clean Air Group. “Ozone has been shown to be as bad for people with emphysema as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. So anything we can do to purify the air will dramatically improve everyone’s health and prevent suffering. “
The increase in the number of electric school buses could also have a big impact on communities of color and low-income Georgians.
“Often times they can live near a major source of pollution or near busy roads – all of these things contribute to greater exposure to air pollution,” said June Deen of the American Lung. Association. “And consider that they’re on a school bus twice a day, so that’s repeated exposure over a long period of time, which can make a big difference.”
Federal spending on electric school buses could also boost rural Georgia’s economy. Blue Bird has been producing school buses in Fort Valley for almost a century and manufacturing electric buses since 2018.