AZ School District Sees Benefits of Electric Buses, More Funds On Way
Monday, May 8, 2023
This week, one Arizona school district is sharing the local benefits ushered in by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Isaac School District in West Phoenix received more than $2 million in funding for electric school buses through the legislation, and the Environmental Protection Agency is making a second round of funding available for the Clean School Bus Program.
Another $400 million will be awarded through a competitive grant process, with applications due in late August.
D.J. Portugal, federal climate organizer for the nonprofit Chispa Arizona, said it is great to see federal dollars being used for the initiative.
"There are studies that show the impacts that a clean, quiet school ride can have on a student's performance, on their school attendance," Portugal pointed out. "There's ripple effects beyond just the clean air."
He noted the program has received an "overwhelming response," with about 40% of applications for last year's funding coming from rural school districts. And since rural students make up only about 19% of the overall student population, Portugal added it shows clean school buses are not a partisan issue.
Hazel Chandler, Arizona field organizer for the group Moms Clean Air Force, said tailpipe emissions are affecting everyone's health, especially for areas like Maricopa County, which has received failing air-quality grades from the American Lung Association for years.
She acknowledged she has heard critics of the Clean School Bus Program, who claim it is too expensive. But Chandler countered they should consider the longer-term implications of having electric school buses over diesel ones.
"There is very little maintenance and the fuel cost is way lower," Chandler emphasized. "When you look at the total cost of operations of school buses over its expected life, the EV only costs 78% of what it would cost to run a diesel school bus."
Chandler added at an event tomorrow, the Isaac School District will celebrate its clean bus fleet. A variety of groups will be on hand to highlight the environmental and health benefits of electric buses.
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