The same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the first year of its $5-billion Clean School Bus Program is set to begin next month, Democrats in the Senate and House asked for more money in the fiscal-year 2023 appropriations bill to assist underserved and rural communities.
Sens. Alex Padilla of California and Raphael Warnock of Georgia joined Reps. Tony Cardenas of California and Jahana Hayes of Connecticut on a letter to the Senate and House appropriations committees on Wednesday to ask for at least another $300 million in the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill to fund the purchase of zero-emissions school buses and charging infrastructure.
The letter calls the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program, authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed last fall, a “down payment to start electrifying our nation’s massive school bus fleet of roughly 480,000 vehicles and provide healthier, cleaner futures for students.” It adds that the $2.5 billion dedicated to electric buses and $2.5 billion for low-emissions buses such as propane and CNG over fiscal years 2022 through 2026 “only scratches the surface of what is needed to transition to zero-emissions buses and improve the health of the more than 20 million students who ride buses to school each day as well as surrounding communities.”
School Transportation News estimates the Clean School Bus Program could result in at least 6,750 electric buses, based on an average initial vehicle cost of $350,000 and new charging stations that cost around $20,000 each, and more than 15,000 propane-powered buses that cost about $130,000 each over the next five years.
The partisan effort is co-signed by 17 senators and 64 representatives in the House.
Last week, Padilla, Warnock, Cardenas and Hayes also reintroduced legislation that would authorize $25 billion over 10 years to replace existing diesel school buses with electric school buses.
Related: EPA Reduces Year-1 Funding for Clean School Bus Program Rebate
Related: Historic Infrastructure Bill Starts Flow of Electric School Bus Funding
Related: Senators Continue Call for Increased Zero-Emission School Bus Funding
Editor’s note — This article has been updated to clarify that the estimated number of electric and propane buses that could be procured through the Clean School Bus Program are School Transportation News estimates, only.