Pontiac schools to replace all diesel buses with electric buses for 2024-25 school year

What’s happening: Local officials and project stakeholders gathered in Pontiac on Tuesday, March 19, celebrating Pontiac School District plans for a complete fleet of all-electric school buses come the 2024-25 academic year. The school district currently has 25 electric buses in its fleet and will soon add 15 more, enabling the city to remove all remaining diesel fuel-powered buses from the road for the next school year.

Why it’s important: “[W]e are celebrating the Pontiac School District for receiving a total of 40 all-electric school buses. The District is adding 15 additional electric school buses to its existing fleet of 25 all-electric buses thanks to the EPA funding under the Clean Bus School Program. This is a school district leading the electric charge in an area needing clean air solutions,” reads a statement from Elizabeth Hauptman from Moms Clean Air Force, a member of the Michigan clean school bus coalition. 

“It’s also hope and cause for celebration for an entire community of students, bus drivers and residents whose health will no longer be compromised by tailpipe pollution from replaced fossil-fueled buses. More than anything, this achievement speaks to the District’s total commitment to cleaner air and a healthier future for our kids!”

How they’re doing it: Pontiac School District has been able to replace its 40-bus fleet with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Clean School Bus Program, which itself is funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021. The school district won two such grants in recent months, including a $9.75 million grant in November 2023 and a $5.9 million grant in January 2024. The Cincinnati-based company First Student is supplying the electric fleet.

Big picture: “Clean and electric school buses protect our children and communities and are a key solution to meeting Michigan’s ambitious climate goals,” says EGLE Director Phil Roos. “I applaud the Biden Administration for investing in Michigan school districts like Pontiac. Prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Michigan had 17 electric school buses, and the federal Clean School Bus program and investments from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state partners have accelerated Michigan’s transition to a clean energy future. Today, more than 200 clean-powered school buses are on the road or arriving soon in Michigan.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.