If the United States transitioned its entire fleet of 480,000 school buses to all-electric vehicles, it could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions each year and reduce the toxic air pollution to which schoolchildren are directly exposed. A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, and Frontier Group, Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthy Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air, shows that a full transition to electric school buses in the U.S. could eliminate an average of 5.3 million tons of climate-altering pollution each year -- the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road.
"Pollution from school buses is harming our children's health and contributing excessively to global warming,” said Andrea McGimsey, Environment America Global Warming Director. "Our research shows that whether they're boarding the bus or on the bus, kids are exposed to toxic air in high concentrations. Electrifying our buses is a common-sense solution for communities across the nation.”
Approximately 95 percent of U.S. school buses run on diesel, even though numerous studies have shown that inhaling diesel exhaust can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing conditions such as asthma. The negative effects are especially pronounced in children. The good news is that all-electric buses are available and ready to roll, and they’re cleaner, healthier and often cheaper for school districts and bus contractors to run in the long-term. With zero tailpipe emissions, electric school buses can significantly cut emissions from the transportation sector -- the #1 contributor of global warming pollution -- and reduce our kids’ exposure to toxic fumes.
"When we put our kids on a school bus we rely on these buses for safe transportation,” said Jeff Robinson, director of U.S. PIRG’s transportation program. “We have the technology to avoid these negative repercussions, so why wouldn’t we drive toward a cleaner future?”
"Diesel threatens children's well-being by contributing to a number of health concerns, including asthma and cancer. Beyond that, burning diesel threatens their future," said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and coauthor of the report. "Our report shows that all-electric school buses are an increasingly viable solution."
The report identifies several ways states, school districts and bus contractors can pay for all-electric school buses and charging infrastructure: state and federal grants, utility investments and some of the billions of dollars Volkswagen paid as part of the “Dieselgate” settlement.
“We need 100 percent of our buses, cars and trucks to be electric by 2035, to meet the goals the world laid out to tackle global warming under the Paris Agreement. By transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to clean electricity, the humble school bus can fully deliver on its promise to get our kids to and from school safely without jeopardizing the future of our planet,” said McGimsey.
Environment America Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.