Mayor Michelle Wu announced Boston Public Schools is launching a request for to gain input on electrification strategies for its fleet of 739 school buses.
A pilot is to begin during the 2022-2023 school year, Wu added in a statement on Wednesday, with the goal of full electrification by 2030. The school district will use a combination of its operating budget and American Recovery Act funds to replace the first 20 diesel buses with electric buses. Wu said the electric vehicles will be deployed within the next eight to 10 months.
“I am excited to see this policy come to life and am grateful for the partnership with the city to take these critical steps to upgrading our school bus fleet,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius.
BPS school buses represent about 11 percent of the city’s municipal emissions.
Wu’s office said BPS will continue to replace larger school buses with electric and then will. replace smaller buses until the entire fleet is electrified. Since 2016, the district has also been replacing diesel buses with propane as “an interim solution to reduce emissions and costs.”
Wednesday’s announcement noted that propane bus technology offers reduced air pollution compared to diesel buses and transitioning from diesel to propane has provided opportunities for the school district to navigate fleet management for vehicles that have limited re-fueling points. This has primed BPS’ ability to work with electric school buses that may have range limitations, affecting route assignments.
Electrification, Wu’s officed added, will eliminate tailpipe emissions, address air quality and noise concerns around school pick-up and drop-off, offer a healthier work environment for bus drivers and monitors, and potentially offer cost savings over the entire bus life cycle.
Wu also said that Boston’s 66 active EV charging stations will increase to 81 over the next year.
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BPS is also working with the city on a train-the-trainer electrification program at a local vocational high school. Starting next month, the Boston Public Works Department fleet maintenance division will offer the first-ever, train-the-trainer class to certify fleet mechanics as well as those who work for Public Works and the Boston Police on properly and safely servicing and repairing electric vehicles.
High school seniors enrolled in the automotive program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, students at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and adult learners can also take the program.
Meanwhile, this month’s request for information looks to connect the city with local private businesses, supply chain experts, and electric school bus and charging providers that may have an interest in partnering on the project.