Remember that time I said maybe we shouldn’t expect big things from the first year of the Clean School Bus program?
That didn’t age well.
Not only did the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) get enough demand to exhaust the $500 million during the first round of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but they also felt compelled to nearly double the pot to help as many applicants as possible.
When the rebate application window closed in August, the EPA had about 2,000 project proposals valued at nearly $4 billion for more than 12,000 buses.
In late October, the agency announced recipients in 389 school districts that will receive funds to buy nearly 2,500 new low- and zero-emission school buses and qualifying infrastructure. About 95% of the requested buses are electric. Most of the selected projects met criteria to be prioritized by the EPA, including low-income, rural, and tribal regions.
So, in the end, demand sizzled rather than fizzled, and the federal government did what it could to meet it – much to the approval of school bus manufacturers.
“EPA nearly doubling its initial commitment to clean school buses is a testament to the extraordinary impact this technology can have on public health,” said Daoud Chaaya, vice president of sales, aftermarket and marketing, at Thomas Built Buses. “As TBB celebrates milestones like the delivery of our 200th electric Jouley in the nation and crossing 500,000 electric service miles in Virginia alone, we are excited to see momentum build for clean energy solutions that transport our most precious cargo: our kids.”
Marc Bedard, CEO and founder of Lion Electric, also hailed the EPA’s additional funding for 2022: “As a manufacturer of purpose-built 100% electric school buses, it is extremely encouraging to see the resounding success of this initial round of the EPA Clean School Bus Program. An oversubscription rate of nearly eight times the available $500 million proves that the school transportation industry is ready to move beyond polluting diesel buses, for the improvement of the health of our students and communities.”
After the EPA announced the first-round funding recipients, Blue Bird Corporation’s president and CEO Matthew Stevenson praised the program: “Today’s historic funding announcement by the EPA accelerates the adoption of clean student transportation in the United States. It’s a major step to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and to put student and community health first.”
Congratulations to the EPA and to the hundreds of school districts that now stand to benefit from this ambitious federal program.