The country's single largest deployment of electric school buses is underway in Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools. The district has partnered with Highland Electric Fleets to transform to all-electric by 2025.
The district hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week in Bethesda at Walter Johnson High School.
During the 2021-2022 school year, MCPS installed electric charging infrastructure at a transportation depot and received its first 25 electric buses. It's expected that another 61 buses will come this school year, along with infrastructure installations at three more depots.
"Moving to electric transportation is not only a necessary response to climate change, but it is also something students have asked for at Board of Education meetings," said Brenda Wolff, president of the district's Board of Education. "My Board colleagues and I are pleased to support this effort and thank all MCPS staff who work to support environmental sustainability in the school system."
Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight shared similar sentiments: "Moving to an electrified school bus fleet makes sense and is the future of transportation for all of us. The school bus is the first and last contact with our students each day, and a new, modern school bus reflects our commitment to an excellent experience for students."
According to an MCPS news release, the district's diesel school buses use about 17,000 gallons of fuel during a typical school day, emitting greenhouse gases and other harmful matter. "Replacing the diesel bus fleet with electric buses brings MCPS one step closer to its pledge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035," the release stated.
The collaboration with Highland Electric Fleets is expected to deliver cleaner, healthier transportation for students and local communities, and support electric grid reliability with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services.
Said Maryland House Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo: "Toxic pollutants can be as much as 2.5 times more prevalent inside a typical diesel school bus than inside an electric school bus. Considering this, along with the carbon emissions caused by the 17,000 gallons of fuel that MCPS diesel buses use daily, electrifying our school bus fleets is an imperative public health, climate change, and environmental priority. MCPS's work to electrify their bus fleet will improve health outcomes for children today and protect our air quality for years to come."
"School buses will not be a symbol of safe and sustainable student transportation," said U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin. "We don't need our school buses to emit diesel fumes dangerous for our children and everyone else. School buses can embody and actualize the new green era we are entering."