California has become the fifth state in the United States to enact legislation requiring all new school buses in the state to be electric starting in 2035. With this move, California joins Connecticut, Maryland, Maine and New York in promoting of electric school buses.
California is already a leader in electric school bus adoption, with more than 2,078 electric buses built across the state. Approximately 34% of these buses have already been delivered or are in operation. The state estimates that the transition to zero-emission school buses will cost about $5 billion.
Funding for electric school buses in California comes from a variety of sources. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Rebate Program contributes to 39% of all electric buses produced in the United States. The program received more than $900 million from the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act in its first round of funding. Another major source of funding is California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program (HVIP), which has funded 1,029 electric buses.
California has the largest and longest-running electric school bus programs in the United States and has established ambitious mandates to reduce heavy-duty vehicle emissions. Switching to electric school buses offers many benefits. This will save school districts money in the long run by reducing fuel costs and eliminating exposure to diesel prices. In addition, it will lead to a significant reduction in global warming emissions and improve public health, because diesel-fueled school buses contribute to pollution that is harmful to children’s brain development and respiratory health.
While the 2035 deadline to require electric school buses is a positive step, some argue that it is not as ambitious as other states, such as New York, which set a 2027 deadline. significant step towards a cleaner, healthier future for the children of the state.