School bus contractor First Student, the largest operating across North America, joined dozens of companies and organizations being lauded by the White House for expanding electric vehicle fleets, advances in community charging, consumer education and resources.
First Student was singled out on Thursday alongside Amazon, Waymo and others for its electric vehicle fleet expansion during the unveiling of EV Acceleration Challenge results. The White House solicited companies and organizations online to share specific actions they are taking to support the transition to EVs. In addition to fleet expansion, the recognition also singled out community charging, consumer education and support, and tools and resources.
So far, First Student has deployed 240 electric school buses (ESBs) out of its total North American fleet of 46,000 but has plans to have as many as 30,000 ESBs on the road by 2035. That is the same year the federal government is aiming for 100 percent of its medium- and heavy-duty fleet to be EV.
“At First Student, we are proud to be leading the way in school bus electrification,” said Kevin Matthews, the company’s head of electrification. “We appreciate the recognition by the White House of our commitment to accelerating the EV transition, which is having an immediate and positive impact in the communities we serve. Electric school buses improve environmental health and provide an exceptional experience for our student passengers with zero noise and zero emissions, getting them to school ready to learn to achieve their full potential.”
Related: Bechtel, First Student Partnership Promises to Boost School Bus Electrification Efforts
Other companies the Biden administration recognized for EV fleet expansion were Amazon, which is rolling out over 3,000 electric delivery vehicles as part of its commitment to bringing 100,000 electric delivery vehicles to the road by 2030; Hertz, which is “substantially” increasing its EV rental fleet to nearly 2 million this year; Cirba Solutions and its plan to process end-of-life batteries and Gigafactory manufacturing scrap for enough battery material to charge 1 million EVs by 2028; and Waymo for its deployment of all-electric Jaguar I-PACE across its ride-hailing service territories this spring.
While First Student was the only student transportation company recognized, other organizations are related or otherwise notable. This includes Siemens, which last year sold its commercial vehicles division to Cummins Inc. The White House lauded Siemens for its commitment to installing charging stations at not only all its U.S. facilities but also employees’ homes. The company is converting its 10,000-vehicle fleet to electric by 2030, and 10 percent of parking spaces in new company facility construction projects must include EV charging stations across.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz, a relative of Thomas Built Buses by way of Daimler Trucks North America, is launching “Electric Dream Days” test drives this month.
Google is developing an online search tool that will provide up-to-date information about the availability and coverage of tax credits across eligible passenger vehicles.
And CALSTART, a member organization dedicated to advancing clean fuel and energy that has worked with School Transportation News on its Green Bus Summit and STN EXPO content, is working with vehicle electrification advocate Forth along with the Electrification Coalition and EVHybridNoire to launch the Charge@Work campaign and Electric Vehicle Adoption Leadership certification program this fall that will engage over 50,000 workplaces with the goal of installing over 100,000 vehicle charger stations.
Related: (STN Podcast E152) Pluses and Minuses: Honest Considerations for Electric, Clean Fuel Buses
Related: (STN Podcast E151) Consortiums & Considerations: Electric School Buses Come to Rural Illinois
Related: Cummins Electrification Rebrand Promises Acceleration of Electric School Bus Production
The White House also announced Tuesday that federal agencies have acquired 13,000 light- and medium-duty, zero-emission vehicles in the fiscal year 2023, a four-fold increase over the same period last year. President Joe Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan calls for all new federal light-duty vehicle purchases to be 100 percent electric by 2027 and all medium- and heavy-duty purchases to be zero emissions by 2035.
The Biden administration also said an additional 24,000 charging stations will be installed at federal facilities by the next fiscal year. Currently, there are more than 5,000 charging stations already installed at federal facilities nationwide.
Additionally, a Station Locator Tool was announced, which is designed for faster, more affordable and convenient charging of EVs. The tool will include the cost to charge an EV at an individual charging station and the charging speed or power output at the charger port level.