Image Source: State Policy Dashboard

On May 29th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its third round of funding through its Clean School Bus Program, this time awarding nearly $900 million to school districts across the country to transition to clean school buses.

The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides $5 billion over five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and clean school buses. To date, the EPA has awarded almost $3 billion through the Clean School Bus Program to fund approximately 8,500 school bus replacements at over 1,000 schools.

Nearly 530 school districts will benefit from this round of funding, which will enable the replacement of 3,441 buses, with 92 percent being replaced with electric buses. The remaining buses will be replaced with propane or compressed natural gas. About 45 percent of the selected projects prioritize school districts in low-income, rural, and Tribal communities, receiving around 67 percent of the total funding. The Clean School Bus Program is a Justice40 covered program, which mandates that 40 percent of the overall benefits from specific federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and heavily impacted by pollution.

The Spokane School District in Washington and the Reading School District in Pennsylvania received the most funding with nearly $9 million each for the purchase of 25 new electric buses. Several other school districts have received similar awards.

Many contractors stand out in this round of funding. First Student, a school bus provider, leads all applicants and awarded school districts over $200 million in rebates for cleaner school buses. Highland Electric Fleets comes in second, winning over $140 million in funds for school districts in 22 states.

According to the EPA, the agency will continue to review selected applications and may make additional awards. The EPA is also currently accepting applications for its 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program until July 25h, 2024, with $932 million in grant funds available for the purchase of new, zero-emission Class 6 or 7 school buses.

For a deep dive on this round of Clean School Bus awards, visit our State Policy Dashboard.  

About the author: Moe Khatib