Vice President Harris Announces $1 Billion in Grants for Schools to Purchase ‘Clean’ Buses

It will be the first installment of $5 billion for U.S. school districts over the next five years.
Front of School Bus
Photo: Austin Pacheco/Unsplash
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(The Center Square) – Vice President Kamala Harris visited Seattle to announce nearly $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for low-emission school buses throughout the U.S. in 2023.

The $1 billion will be the first installment of $5 billion for U.S. school districts over the next five years. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds flow through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. The funds are expected to support the purchase of 2,463 buses, with 95% of these buses to be electric, according to the agency.

The EPA said it received about 2,000 applications requesting nearly $4 billion for more than 12,000 low-emission buses. A total of 389 applications worth $913 million were accepted to support the purchase of the 2,463 buses throughout the U.S.

The EPA initially made $500 million available for clean buses in May. The agency increased the amount to $965 million last month in response to all the requests for electric bus funding from school districts across the country.

“In America today, 25 million children a day go to school on the yellow school bus – and today, 95% of our school buses are fueled with diesel fuel,” Harris said at Lumen Field in Downtown Seattle. “[The electric school bus] symbolizes so much about our collective investment in our future.”

King County has been working to have more low-emission and electric-powered buses for its metro system. The county has pledged to have the King County Metro’s entire bus fleet produce zero-emissions by 2035. 

In late-March, King County launched a battery-electric bus charging facility along with three fully battery-electric coaches that are now in service.

The three coaches were created by Canadian-based manufacturer, New Flyer. The price per bus was approximately $925,000 apiece for two 40-foot buses, and $1.3 million for one 60-foot bus, according to King County figures. King County Metro expects to purchase 120 more battery-electric buses in 2024.

The average diesel-fueled school bus costs about $165,000, whereas the average cost of an electric school bus is $400,000 according to Seattle Climate.org.

King County Executive Dow Constantine’s 2023-2024 proposed budget seeks $180.5 million for the 120 buses. The proposed budget also includes $1 million to build a charging station at the Metro’s South Base and $26.5 million for a charging station at the Interim Base that can support the 120 planned battery-electric buses.

Washington School Districts that were accepted to receive grant dollars include: Easton School District; Pomeroy School District; South Whidbey School District; and Toppenish School District.

This story was originally published by The Center Square and used with permission.

Spencer Pauley
Spencer Pauley reports on Seattle and the King County area of Washington. He was previously an independent filmmaker and worked on "The Clinton Affair," a documentary series investigating the impeachment proceedings of former President Bill Clinton.

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