More than 50 school districts in Georgia have applied for federal funds to purchase electric school buses.
A new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program aims at providing school buses an alternative to gasoline or diesel fuel by funding electric buses. Currently, most buses in Georgia run on diesel.
The agency will award around $1 billion annually for the next five years to school districts that want to purchase electric, propane or CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles. The funding comes from the infrastructure spending bill Congress passed last year. Also, some of the funding may be used for setting up electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.
The first set of EPA awards will be announced in October.
Hayley Greene, director of Public Relations for Bulloch County Schools, said the school district did not apply in the first round of funding. She said the district is studying the parameters of the EPA program and may apply for future funding.
Bulloch County currently has a total of 168 school buses, of which 99 buses run approximately 95 routes each day. The buses travel 1.3 million miles per school year, transporting about 5,500 children to and from school each year.
Greene said the school district’s additional 68 buses are used for switching out buses during maintenance, field trips, athletic events and wherever they are needed in the system.
In addition to energy efficiency and saving on transportation costs, one Georgia non-profit said increasing the number of electric school buses on the road would improve children’s respiratory health in the state.
Asthma is the top reason children are absent from school, Stephanie Blank, co-founder of Mothers and Others for Clean Air, said during a news conference.
“No child should be made sick or die from dirty air,” said Laura Turner Seydel, the group’s other co-founder.
Yancey Bus Sales & Services in Austell is helping districts apply for the program.