$5 Billion For Electric School Buses In US Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, aka Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, includes $5 billion for EV charging, but — much less discussed — it also includes $5 billion for cleaner school buses, especially electric school buses! This is tranformative.

Many Tesla fans are very upset right now about a spat going on between Elon Musk and some Democratic politicians and political talking heads. It’s an odd spat that has developed one tweet after another for years, especially when you consider that both are on the side of growing the numbers of EVs on the road while Republicans in Congress (and when in the White House) do everything they can to protect fossil fuel industries. The good news is that Democrats passed legislation this year that funds much more electric vehicle charging infrastructure and also funds large-scale adoption of electric school buses. Republicans in Congress would never vote such funding into law.

Much more was expected from the Build Back Better bill, but that now appears to be dead in the water. I was recently looking through what’s in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, and one thing jumped out at me — $5 billion for electric school buses.

Image courtesy of Blue Bird

There are many great reasons to support electric vehicles, and electric buses and school buses really maximize those benefits. Exposing our youngest people to hardcore pollution from large diesel buses creates developmental problems, severe health problems (including widespread asthma and sometimes cancer), and global heating that dooms those same people to one of the hardest generational futures in human history.

Support for Electric School Buses and “Low-Emissions Buses”

Thomas Built Buses Inc’s Saf-T-Liner® C2 Jouley electric school bus is powered by Proterra electric vehicle technology.

Before I get gong further into that, though, here’s a quick summary of that portion of the bill courtesy of Grist:

“The bill also contains $5 billion to get started on a national network of electric vehicle chargers, and another $2.5 billion that can be put toward any kind of ‘alternative fueling infrastructure,’ including natural gas, hydrogen, and propane. The bill also allocates $5 billion to replace old, polluting school buses with lower-carbon options, with half the money designated for electric school buses.”

While electric car chargers and electric car subsidies have gotten the most attention in discussions about both of these pieces of legislation, electric bus funding was as large as the funding for EV charging in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. Well, there’s a caveat there, as half of the funding could be used for “low-emissions buses” — but that also means it could be used for fully electric buses, just like the other $2.5 billion. Let’s hope the money is used wisely.

Here’s how EPA summarizes its administration of funding:

“Following the passage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (pdf) (1039 pp, 2.31 MB, November 2021), EPA will be making significant investments in the health, equity, and resilience of American communities. EPA will offer a total of $5 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 to fund the replacement of existing school buses with low- or zero-emission school buses. Each year, $500 million will be available exclusively for electric school buses and $500 million will be available for electric buses and multiple types of cleaner alternative fuel school buses.

“EPA can offer grants and rebates to assist fleets in purchasing new, cleaner school buses and the associated charging and fueling infrastructure. EPA will ensure a broad geographic distribution of awards.”

Electric School Bus Pilots

Image courtesy of Lion Electric

We have covered electric school bus pilot programs for years (since at least March 2014). More recently, larger orders have been getting placed thanks to improved range, technology, price, and proof on the road. For further background, here’s a roundup of electric school bus stories we’ve published in the past year:

  1. Student Transportation Of Canada Orders 1000 Electric School Buses From Lion Electric
  2. New York City Will Transition To 100% Electric School Buses By 2035
  3. The Benefits Of Electric School Buses, V2G For Low-Income Communities
  4. BYD Aims To “Revolutionize” The Electric School Bus
  5. How A Southern California School District Is Leading The E-Bus Revolution
  6. Largest Order Of Electric School Buses In North America Placed By First Student
  7. 260 LionC Electric School Bus Order
  8. How Quickly Will Electric School Buses Scale? An Interview With Blue Bird
  9. Blue Bird Delivers Its 400th Electric School Bus
  10. Largest Electric School Bus Order In US History — Montgomery County Orders 326 Buses (Just To Start)
  11. Miami-Dade Starts Transition To Electric School Bus Fleet
  12. NY Governor Cuomo Unleashes New Electric Bus Initiatives
  13. Blue Bird Sells Its 300th Electric School Bus, & 1st In Texas


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