$150M for electric school buses would create safe rides for kids
Over half a million Michigan students who depend on buses as primary school transportation could soon have cleaner, safer rides with electric school buses.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer included $150 million in her fiscal year 2024 budget for the transition to electric school buses, and last week the school aid subcommittees of the Michigan Legislature released promising budgets in support of this important funding. In the House budget, the full $150 million was appropriated, and in the Senate, $75 million.
Nearly all of the 17,000 school buses statewide are fueled by diesel and expose students to dangerous diesel exhaust that contributes to poor air quality and can cause serious health complications like asthma. Electric school buses produce no tailpipe emissions and are a safer alternative for our kids—and they’re already on the road in districts like Oxford and Zeeland, reliably serving families in Michigan.
“We are encouraged with these subcommittee budget appropriations for electric school buses and look forward to ensuring the full $150 million laid out in the Governor's proposed budget is fulfilled,” said Ross Gavin, urban land use and infrastructure policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council.
“Nationwide, low-income and Black students are more likely to ride the bus to school and therefore more likely to face air pollution exposure by diesel bus exhaust. This exposure is compounded with existing poor air quality in high-pollution corridors, like Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids, where levels of transportation-related pollution tend to be highest. Our kids deserve safe, clean rides to school, and electric school buses can help us achieve that.”
Raquel Garcia is the executive director for Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision.
“If you look at Detroit using the MiEJ Screen, you can see that Detroit is the darkest burgundy color against the rest of the state. We live in a toxic soup of emissions in Detroit from a combination of manufacturing, trains and truck traffic. Removing the closest source of pollution from the everyday lives of students is such a hopeful and powerful act that affects the lives of students today. Not only do we immediately create cleaner air around students with electric buses, they get to experience the technologies that help us stop our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Kindra Weid is the coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health.
“All kids deserve a clean, healthy ride to and from school. Michigan has close to 6,500 of the oldest and dirtiest diesel buses still in operation, which would be eligible for replacement through the funding included in that $150 million. Schools in Ann Arbor, Deerborn, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Pelston, Roseville, Three Rivers, and Zeeland (just to name a few) have already made the switch and are seeing the benefits for their students. Drivers like the cleaner, quieter ride, surrounding communities benefit from decreased pollution, and schools see cost savings on fuel, maintenance and longevity. School buses are well-suited for electrification and offer a better alternative for our kids, drivers and communities.”
To learn more about the community benefits of electric school buses and Michigan’s window of opportunity to accelerate deployment via the Governor’s budget proposal, register for the Michigan electric school bus roundtable, hosted virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, May 10, at 10AM.