First Student aims to complete fleet electrification efforts by 2035. - Image: Canva/First Student

First Student aims to complete fleet electrification efforts by 2035.

Image: Canva/First Student

First Student, one of North America's largest providers of school transportation, hit another milestone in its work to advance school bus electrification, officially reaching 2 million miles driven on electric school buses.

“This milestone further solidifies First Student as the industry leader in school bus electrification,” said Kevin L. Matthews, First Student head of electrification. “Electrifying our nation’s school bus fleet will help us build healthier futures for children across North America, and we are committed to our mission to transition 30,000 buses to electric by 2035. We look forward to the next million miles.”

What This Electric Bus Milestone Means

At two million miles, First Student electric school buses have driven the equivalent of 80 trips around the world. Through its investment in electric buses, First Student has already reduced carbon emissions by over 7.5 million pounds.

First Student is delivering 15-20 electric buses to school districts across North America every month and there are 317 EVs on order and, First Student will reduce carbon emissions by 30,618,000 tons in the 2023/2024 school year alone.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program provides $5 billion over the next five years for school bus electrification, and First Student is actively helping school districts apply for this funding. First Student assists schools in providing cleaner transportation options through its role as their transportation provider or through its electrification consulting services.

“The benefits of electrifying school buses are tremendous, creating cleaner air, quieter streets, and better health outcomes for children and communities,” said Matthews. “We are thrilled that the administration has prioritized electrifying school buses, and are committed to working with school districts to help them benefit from this funding.”

Infrastructure Upgrades Help Electrification Goals

This news comes just days after First Student praised the recent opening of a new fast-charging facility to serve the School District of the City of Pontiac in Michigan. The facility was designed by First Student and the school district using chargers provided by automotive technology supplier BorgWarner. It will allow First Student to operate the 25 electric school buses awarded to Pontiac School District through the Clean School Bus Program.

“The opening of this fast-charging facility is an exciting development for the Pontiac School District,” Matthews said. “First Student is proud to have played a part in designing this clean energy infrastructure project, and we can’t wait to put it to use in operating the new electric school buses coming soon to the district. These zero-emission school buses will assist in bringing cleaner air, quieter streets, and better health outcomes for the children and residents of Pontiac.”   

In October 2022, Pontiac School District was awarded $9,375,000 to buy 25 new electric school buses to replace older fossil fuel burning buses under the first round of disbursements from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, as well as $500,000 for the associated infrastructure. This funding represented the largest award going to any school district in the state of Michigan. As the transportation provider for The School District of the City of Pontiac, First Student will  operate and maintain the new electric school buses, which are expected to be delivered in early fall of 2024. Additional funding for the infrastructure was provided by DTE Energy’s Charging Forward program.  

“This project will impact students district wide, as the new electric buses will support numerous routes throughout our servicing area. Being able to provide a better transportation experience to our students is paramount in our mission. By creating zero emissions, reducing the noise level of the bus, and providing a comfortable ride, our students should arrive at school happier and healthier, ready to engage in the learning environment” said Kelley Williams, superintendent for The School District of the City of Pontiac. 

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