Boston Mayor Michelle Wu recently announced her intention to convert 739 school buses to electric vehicles by 2030. This is no small feat to convert the fleet. In fact, the plan is to convert many of the 1,200 city vehicles (not including school buses and public safety vehicles) within the same time frame. This is all part of Boston’s Green New Deal. This deal aims to reduce global warming while creating more economic opportunities. Electric school buses are a fantastic move to help solidify her Green New Deal, but it’s going to take time.
School bus emissions make up 11% of the city’s municipal emissions. This is a hefty number that, if curbed, can do wonders for the air quality of Boston. Research shows that long-term exposure to tailpipe emissions increases the risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Not only will the kids benefit from cleaner trips to school, but it will also help the drivers and monitors who work on the buses. Electric vehicles will solve the problem of tailpipe emissions as well as reduce noise pollution. It’s a win for everyone in Boston.
How Much do Electric School Buses Cost?
The plan is to roll out the first 20 electric buses by the start of the next school year, but it’s not going to be cheap. The first 20 buses will cost an estimated $7 million. The funds will come from the school’s department operating budget and what is left from the Federal Coronavirus Stimulus fund. There is no word on where the funding for the next 719 buses will come from. However, the Biden administration is on the same page as Governor Wu. Biden’s infrastructure deal plans to allocate billions of dollars to states to help rebuild infrastructure with carbon emissions in mind. The city of Boston will surely use some of these funds to help convert the remaining buses and municipal vehicles.
The electric buses may be a significant purchase up front, but down the line, the school’s transportation department will see significant savings. Electric vehicles are much cheaper to maintain. This means fewer buses out of commission and more opportunities to use them for class trips. With the price of gas skyrocketing, the fuel savings should help with more access to buses for all schools in Boston.
Staci Rubin, vice president of environmental justice at the Conservation Law Foundation, urged the city to roll out the first electric buses in underserved and low-income neighborhoods. These places have historically had larger issues with emissions. Mayor Wu made the announcement at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which may be a sign that she is taking Rubin’s request seriously.
There is no word on where the new buses will roll out first, but the consensus is that they’re coming. Boston will look very different by the year 2030. If everything goes according to plan, it should look different in a good way. The air will be cleaner, the roads will be quieter, and asthma and respiratory issues will go down, all while saving tax dollars on less vehicle maintenance.