Seven school districts in Michigan rolled out the state’s first electric school buses Thursday.
The 17 electric school buses will be replacing 17 diesel ones in seven school districts across the state, including Zeeland, Kalamazoo, Three Rivers, Oxford, Gaylord, Roseville and Ann Arbor. They are being financed in part from a Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement allocation via the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Fuel Transformation Program. The EGLE worked with the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation to acquire the buses.
The money allocation from the Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement came after the car company Volkswagen was found to be cheating emissions testing and exceeding NOx federal limits. Volkswagen paid a total of $2 billion to various states across the U.S. as part of its $14.7 billion settlement plan.
“Michigan had a great opportunity with the allocation it received from the Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement to support transition to cleaner transportation options with lower emissions,” EGLE said in a statement. “MAPT took the lead to get schools interested in participating in the electric school bus project.”
Switching to electric school buses not only costs less but also has less environmental impact and exposes students to what the MAPT calls “cutting edge technology.”
“Electric buses will not only be transporting to and from school, but they’ll be rolling educational laboratories,” said Mac Dashney, a senior adviser with MAPT.
The buses cost $320,000 each.
Using electric school buses also means that students’ exposure to harmful diesel exhaust fumes will drop. Contaminants found in diesel exhaust include more than 40 substances that are some form of pollutant, the EGLE said in its announcement. Burning fossil fuels makeup 85 percent of fire particulate air pollution and is a major source of greenhouse gases.
“Diesel emissions from older buses are not only immediately harmful to Michigan’s children, but also impact climate and contribute to long-term damage to the environment,” the department said.
The buses are also easier to maintain and make no noise, said Dashney.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]