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HomeGreen BusCalifornia Ups Investment in Electric School Buses for Disadvantaged Areas

California Ups Investment in Electric School Buses for Disadvantaged Areas

Funding for zero-emission school buses in rural and low-income communities accounts for nearly half of a new $2.6 billion investment in clean cars, trucks and other mobility options approved by the California Air Resources Board.

The total funding for all modes approved on Thursday increased by $1.5 billion from last year.

CARB stated 52 percent of the state’s 23,800 school buses on the road are powered by diesel. Meanwhile, $1.2 billion has been spent to date by the state legislature since 2009 on school bus cleanup, and it has appropriated an additional $1.8 billion over the next five years.

“Turnover of all publicly owned school buses over by 2045 at a rate of 4 percent turnover per year would require an investment of up to $270 million annually (not including infrastructure costs, total cost of ownership savings, or additional training/support),” CARB reported in compliance with Senate Bill 1403 passed in 2018 to provide annual updates on the state’s school bus funding needs. “California school districts will continue to need more funding and support each year to continue to continue the turnover and cleanup of the school bus fleet.”

CARB’s Clean Mobility Investments program for the 2022-2023 fiscal year includes $135 million in 2022-2023 general fund allocations for zero-emissions school buses as part of the three-year, $400 million Public School Bus Set-Aside. California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) will administer funding as school bus point-of-sale incentives, which are expected to help pay for a total of 1,000 electric school buses for underserved rural school districts.

CARB is also proposing to adjust voucher amounts “to ensure funds are distributed
equitably and in a fiscally responsible manner.”

To be eligible for funding, CARB requires all battery-electric school buses have bi-directional charging capability for vehicle-to-grid functionality by Jan. 1, 2024. CARB notes that all school bus manufacturers already agreed to the V2G requirements for at least one of
each type of school bus listed in the HVIP vehicle catalog.

Last year, CARB awarded $130 million in incentives for zero-emissions school buses. This year, school bus funding is second only to drayage trucks, which are receiving $157 million.

The California Energy Commission is adding $375 million in “complementary” funding for charging infrastructure. Last year, CEC provided $20 million for infrastructure.

The CARB funding includes a competitive grant program, called CMiS, that “specifically focuses on the unique needs of school districts in meeting their comprehensive clean transportation goals and facilitates clean transportation opportunities in and around the school community, including clean mobility options such as car share, zero-emission school buses and delivery trucks, zero-emission lawn and garden equipment and education for staff, students, and
parents.”

This summer, the state legislature approved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget, which included AB 181 to provide another $1.125 billion in Proposition 98 funds over five years beginning in 2023-2024 for zero-emissions school buses. Eligibility will be prioritized based on the small and rural location of school districts and the percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, foster youth and English learners.


Related: 2nd Round of Applications for California VW Grants to Open
Related: (STN Podcast E134) California Leadership: Updates on Student Transportation in the Golden State
Related: EPA Announces Recipients of Clean School Bus Program Rebate Awards

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