The two newly arrived buses mark the start of Boston Public Schools transitioning to...

The two newly arrived buses mark the start of Boston Public Schools transitioning to all-electric vehicles by the year 2030.

Image: Canva/City of Boston

The Boston Public Schools bus fleet welcomed its first two electric school buses this week, with 18 more scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks - in time to roll out after February school vacation, according to Mayor Michelle Wu's office.

On Feb. 6, the mayor joined BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper, Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia, BPS Director of Transportation Dan Rosengard, bus driver trainers, and community members at Hyde Park's Readville bus yard to see how the zero-emission vehicles are integrated into the fleet.

“I’m grateful to the many people who have been instrumental in getting Boston to this point and helping us demonstrate the many overlapping benefits of moving to a green economy and ensuring that our kids and our workforce are at the center of that transition,” Wu said. “Today is one of many steps we are taking to make Boston a Green New Deal city and to move with the urgency that our communities and residents deserve. From cutting down on emissions from every part of our education infrastructure – where our students learn and how they get to class – to preparing our next generation of workers to build and sustain cleaner, greener infrastructure for all of us, we’re so excited about where this will lead Boston.” 


Marking a Green Commitment

Said Skipper: “Our children deserve to learn, grow up, and play while enjoying clean air and experiencing a healthy environment free of air pollution. When these buses hit the road, they will operate with zero emissions and significantly lower noise levels than their diesel-fuel counterparts. So when you see the buses with the green bird with a plug logo on each side, be sure to wave and smile as they and the children inside represent our great city's future.”

Sellers-Garcia said Boston must prioritize the development of electric vehicle infrastructure and that he appreciated BPS leaders for their support of zero-emission vehicles.

The BPS Department of Transportation carefully selected the first routes – 111 trips, across 42 schools –  to run electric school buses based on a variety of factors, including distance from the dispatch yard charging station, total length of route, and the expected traffic patterns along the route, with a preference for stop-and-go traffic rather than highway driving. Additionally, the cold weather deployment was factored into route selection to ensure power supply for battery conditioning and bus heating. Routes travel through nearly all of Boston’s neighborhoods. 

Final Preparations in Progress

BPS is finalizing installation of 20 charging stations at the Readville bus yard, utilizing increased charging capacity that was added with support from Eversource. Each electric bus will have a dedicated charger and be charged every day. The total time to charge each bus is about three to four hours. The learnings from this first phase of electric school bus deployment will support the City in designing and implementing future electric school bus fleet expansion.  

Prior to integrating the 20 buses into the fleet, BPS is training driver trainers, drivers, mechanics, operations staff, and emergency responders to ensure familiarity with the bus design and operation. During the upcoming February vacation, drivers will test routes to ensure they are comfortable driving the new buses in advance of students boarding later this month. An estimated 2,561 students across 42 schools will be riding the 20 buses each school day. BPS currently has 620 buses on the road each day.

In April 2022, Wu first announced that up to 20 electric school buses would be deployed during the 2022-23 school year. These electric buses will replace existing diesel buses. These buses were funded through the BPS operating budget and the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Wu previously shared the goal that BPS will work to replace additional big buses each year, and then move to replacing smaller buses until the entire fleet is electrified by 2030.