We’re close to a turning point in the history of the yellow school bus, as the U.S. government moves forward with plans to spend at least $5 billion on zero-emission student transportation.
Mathias Carlbaum, president and CEO of Navistar, told reporters in February that school bus electrification would serve as “the tip of the spear” for taking all of his company’s vehicles to zero emissions by 2040.
“This will really be a propeller for the whole electrification of vehicles in the United States,” he said.
Cummins, meanwhile, announced plans to pursue a fuel-agnostic strategy for its combustion engines, with versions that operate on gasoline, natural gas, hydrogen, and propane.
No matter what powers the vehicles, the people who make them, drive them, ride them remain unified in the common bond celebrated in February: They love the bus.
John Benish, Jr., immediate past president of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), wrote on Twitter: “I thought about how impactful Love the Bus Month is, and how we should take steps to highlight the iconic yellow bus, our drivers, aides, administrators, mechanics, dispatchers, and anyone else who makes sure that our children make it to school safely, efficiently, and on time. This is no small task, and it often amazes me how seamless the process can be because of the committed professionals working in our proud industry.”
- In North Carolina, former state pupil transportation director Derek Graham gave out Bojangle’s biscuits and coffee to bus drivers.
- In South Carolina, Greenville County Schools celebrated their transportation staff with cinnamon rolls.
- In Florida, school bus workers at Wellington Landings Middle School enjoyed Starbucks and Jamba Juice.
Wayne Reese, last year’s School Bus Fleet Administrator of the Year and the transportation director for Cache County and Logan City school districts in Utah, said: “I love the big yellow bus because it represents a safe and bright future for our children. The school bus provides the most safe way for students to access their classroom, where learning leads to a highly productive society.”
Mario DiFoggio, manager of marketing and direct sales for Thomas Built Buses, agreed.
“What other vehicle on the planet aside from the yellow school bus evokes nostalgia, hope, friendships, inspiration, and wonder all at the same time?” he said. “I love the big yellow bus because it helps make big dreams realities while providing the safest way for kids to get to and from school.”
Ronna Weber, executive director for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation (NASDPTS), noted that the bus is more than just a safe way to school, “it also delivers meals, computers, and assignments during COVID, it moves people out of harm’s way when storms are near, and it is a symbol within our communities of those who care through coat and back-to-school supply drives, along with so much more.”
At Lion Electric, public relations director Brian Alexander said there’s even more to love about the bus when they’re not a hazard to the air breathed by the students who ride them.
“We want our students to be healthy and to thrive,” he said. “Studies have shown that some of the worst air a child will breathe during the day is the air that is inside a diesel school bus. Children are particularly at risk for developing respiratory issues that can last into adulthood, which can be exacerbated by dangerous pollutants emitted by diesel engines….It is our hope that the children who ride on these (electric) buses will become climate champions into the future, which will pay dividends for years to come.”