Indiana school districts awarded $5 million for cleaner school buses

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Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Six Indiana school districts have been awarded more than $5 million in funding for cleaner school buses.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program is an outgrowth of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill and will spend $5 billion over the next five years to begin replacing the diesel school bus fleet.

Susan Mudd, senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said in addition to environmental benefits, there are public health considerations as well.

“Health studies such as those done by Dr. Sara Adar at the University of Michigan public health found years ago that getting kids off of old dirty diesel school buses could save 14 million school-day absences per year and would help in terms of children’s lung development,” Mudd pointed out.

Out of the first round of funding awards, five of the six Indiana districts applied to buy electric buses, with only Michigan City Area Schools opting for propane.

One frequent reservation with electric vehicles is so-called range anxiety; concern about how far the bus can travel on a single charge. Winter is seen as the largest area of concern when electric buses must also use their battery power to generate heat for passengers.

Mudd noted experience with electric buses in multiple cold-weather states suggests the technology is meeting the challenge.

“In both Minnesota and Michigan, there’ve been electric buses that have been operating for over two years now through the winters and have not had problems with range,” Mudd reported. “There’s even been an electric school bus that’s been operating in Alaska in the winter. All those three states have winters that are at least as harsh as those across Indiana.”

She added some districts place electric buses on shorter routes to gain confidence in battery technology.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Again, the cost of an electric bus is greater than the cost of a traditional diesel bus and all the fuel needed to operate it for 10 years (consumption data pulled from Bluebird Busses).

    These are a RIPOFF.

  2. No one talks about the boost in the school district’s electric bill to charge the vehicles. What is the method and cost of heating the bus interiors in those cold places?

  3. Slacker06 and Mr. Farley: Actually, electric school buses (ESBs) are more economical to run and better for the health of our bus drivers and students (health impacts and loss productivity days are not factored into the “cost” of diesel buses!). Asthma is one of the number reasons for absenteeism among school children and diesel emissions are a known trigger for asthma. “In addition to lower lifecycle emissions— up to 61% depending on fuel sourcing—ESBs also feature lower overall operation and maintenance costs. On average, annual operational cost savings can range from $5,000 – $10,000 per bus, saving school districts up to $100,000 over 10 years. This is thanks in part to simpler drivetrain features of EVs, and steady, low electricity pricing when compared to gasoline and diesel.” This program recognizes the barrier of the high price tag up front and therefore is AWARDING these fortunate districts electric school buses. This is a win win for Indiana kids. More money in the classroom and cleaner air to breath on the way to school. My information is from the Electrification Coalition: electrificationcoalition.org.

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