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The electrification of vehicles in America is occurring rapidly in bus fleets

The effort to electrify vehicles is a growing trend sweeping through America. The task is expensive enough to keep it from ever being quick. Still, funding is available from numerous sources and the commitment to accomplish what would once have seemed impossible is obvious.

One of the largest vehicle fleets in the country is the armada of school buses, which transport millions of children to school every day. That’s a primary target for the effort because converting diesel-powered buses to electric power represents a significant way to reduce emissions and improve air quality. The cost is high -according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average cost of a new electric school bus is $400,000. That’s $200,000 higher than the cost of a diesel bus.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees a funding program called the Clean School Bus (CSB) Rebate program. Funding of $5 billion is available now for school districts to convert buses to electric power between 2022 and 2026. In 2022, the first round of the CSB program provided 365 school districts with approximately $900 million and that resulted in the purchase of approximately 2,300 electric buses.

While school bus fleets are a significant target for electrification efforts, transit buses are also eligible for funding. These bus fleets face similar cost barriers, but a similar federal funding program exists for transit authorities. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) runs a Low- and No-Emission Vehicles Program that provided $1.6 billion in 2022 to support transit buses to battery-electric, hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. While not fully electric, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles drastically reduce emissions. The deadline to apply for this funding is Jan. 31.

Bus fleet electrification is also not quick. It happens gradually. The first few electric buses may come in one year, but a decade or more may pass before all the necessary utility infrastructure is in place and the old buses have been replaced with electric ones.

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