Environment /

Boston Mayor Announces Plan to Replace Over 700 School Buses with Electric Alternatives

The government estimates the city's school buses are responsible for 11% of carbon emissions

Boston’s fleet of school buses will be electric vehicles by 2030 as part of the city’s Green New Deal.

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the plan while speaking at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School on April 6.

“Electric vehicles will help reduce emissions across Boston,” Wu said to gathered reporters. “Transportation represents the second highest source of emissions across our city and the first, highest source of emissions if you look statewide.”

Boston Public Schools have 739 buses, which the mayor’s office estimates produce 11% of the city’s total emissions.

At least 20 electric buses will be deployed during the 2022-2023 school year and cost Boston $7 million. The cost will be covered by the BPS operating budget as well as the American Rescue Plan Act, the federal coronavirus stimulus funding.

Though Wu did not say who would manufacture the buses, both Blue Bird and Canada’s Lion Electric reportedly make electric models.

“Climate justice is racial and economic justice and this moment requires an urgent, all hands on deck approach to reduce emissions,” the mayor said during her announcement. 

Wu said Boston will launch a “train the trainer” program, a partnership between the Public Works Department and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School which will train students and city fleet managers to maintain the electric buses, per NBC Boston

“Not only are we working to electrify our school buses and municipal fleet for cleaner air throughout our neighborhoods, but these workforce development pipelines connected to electric vehicles will help support career pathways into the green economy,” said the mayor in a press release

Wu, a Democrat, made the city’s transportation and climate justice two prominent issues during her campaign. She proposed the nation’s first city government Green New Deal, which aimed to address “the ramifications of climate change and its intersecting issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic opportunity to transportation and racial justice,” per Boston.com.

In a 49-page report she released during the summer of 2020, Wu said she wanted to accelerate the city’s decarbonization efforts as it was “the baseline for protecting against the most destructive impacts of climate change.” She said the city should strive to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Wu’s office noted in a statement regarding the future electric buses that BPS has been replacing its diesel buses with buses that use liquid propane since 2016 as an “interim solution to reduce emissions and costs.”

“Electrification will eliminate tailpipe emissions, address air quality and noise concerns around school pick-up and drop-off, offer a healthier work environment for bus drivers and monitors, and potentially offer cost savings over the entire bus life cycle,” the statement noted.

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