Trimet via Flickr CC-BY 2.0

We’re calling on our governor to protect the health of our children, our communities and our planet by making the commitment to purchase all electric buses by 2030.

Each day, buses carry half a million of Massachusetts’ children to and from school, and Bay Staters take hundreds of thousands of rides around our cities. But most of the buses on the road are diesel, powered by dirty fossil fuels, polluting our communities, endangering the health of children and putting our climate at greater risk.

Nearly 95 percent of America’s school buses and more than 60 percent of America’s transit buses run on diesel. Diesel exhaust has been linked to several serious health risks, including increased rates of respiratory illness and cancer. Diesel exhaust is internationally recognized as a cancer-causing agent and classified as a likely carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Getting to school or commuting to work shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that people will get sick. And why would we continue to use dirty diesel buses if they are making the climate crisis worse?

The good news is that all-electric buses are here, and they’re cleaner, healthier and often cheaper to run in the long-term.

  • <h3>BENEFITS OF ELECTRIC BUSES</h3><p>Electric buses don’t emit any tailpipe pollution, eliminating exhaust that is linked to asthma attacks, respiratory illness and cancer.</p>
  • <h3>BENEFITS OF ELECTRIC BUSES</h3><p>Replacing all of America’s school and transit buses with electric buses could avoid an average of 7.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.</p>
  • <h3>BENEFITS OF ELECTRIC BUSES</h3><p>Research found that each electric school bus can save school districts nearly $2,000 a year in fuel and $4,400 a year in reduced maintenance costs, adding up to tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a bus.</p>
  • <h3>BENEFITS OF ELECTRIC BUSES</h3><p>The savings can be even greater for transit buses, which drive more miles. A transit agency in Chicago estimates that each electric bus will save $25,000 a year in avoided fuel costs.</p>
Clean buses are ready to roll

Electric buses are being plugged in all across the commonwealth: from the Pioneer Valley, to Worcester and Martha's Vineyard. In Boston, the MBTA will be testing five electric buses on the Silver Line. Three school districts, Amherst, Concord and Cambridge, participated in a pilot program to bring electric school buses to the road. And on Jan. 30, 2020, the Massachusetts Senate passed a MASSPIRG-backed bill that would require the T to fully transition to electric buses by 2040. The bill would also permanently authorize the commonwealth's existing electric vehicle tax credit.

Still, we need to move faster and go further to protect our health and the climate. We’re working to make every American school and transit bus electric by 2030. Through our Electric Buses for America campaign we’re working to encourage our state and local officials to do more to pave the way.

In 2014, Seneca became the first city in the world to launch an all-electric bus fleet. The buses have outperformed their diesel equivalents in fuel and maintenance costs and have exceeded expectations regarding charging time, range and battery life.

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rollout of electric buses was one of the first major tests in a cold winter climate.The buses have performed well, have had no difficulty with extreme temperatures, and have saved the CTA more than $50,000 each year in fuel and maintenance costs.

Early success in King County Metro’s tests of electric buses have led the agency — which serves an area including Seattle — to commit to transitioning to a full zero-emission fleet by 2040 and to buying only zero-emission buses beginning in 2020.

One of the first in the nation to adopt electric school buses, Twin Rivers Unified School District outside of Sacramento has implemented a successful rollout. The district reports a total savings of $15,000 per year on energy and maintenance costs and believes its experience proves that electric school buses can be a reliable and cost-effective alternative to diesel buses.

Now is the time

State officials now have an extra tool in their arsenal when it comes to making all school and transit buses electric by 2030. The money from the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” settlement can be used to subsidize the purchase of electric buses, slashing millions of dollars from the cost of transitioning to clean buses. Massachusetts is already using some of this money for electric buses or other electrification. MASSPIRG is calling on state officials and our governor to build on this progress and keep investing in clean, electric transportation.

In addition, we’re educating decision-makers about the technology, feasibility and funding options for making the switch to electric buses, and advocating for solutions that would:

  • Create incentive programs and grants for transit agencies, school districts and bus contractors to help finance the upfront cost of electric buses.
  • Facilitate the installation of charging infrastructure through programs that help cover the costs.
  • Promote policies that create low-cost financing programs to help agencies, districts and bus contractors leverage other sources of funding.
  • Identify other ways to ensure successful electrification of buses, including technical assistance and research, as well as the publication of data and lessons learned.
You can help

We’ve worked to promote healthier, cleaner transportation policies for decades and we know how to win at the state and local levels. A key to our success: a strong base of members and supporters throughout the states.

Support a transition to electric buses

Tell your governor to protect the health of our children, our communities and our planet by investing in clean, electric school and transit buses.