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New Federal Funding Helps CT Get Electric School Buses


Friday, October 28, 2022   

Connecticut school districts and bus companies will be receiving more than $8 million in federal funding for electric school buses.

The grant is being awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus Program, as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law.

While many are embracing the push to electric buses, there are concerns about whether they will perform as well as diesel-powered buses.

Tyron Harris, chairman of the board of education for East Hartford Public Schools, described what is needed to ensure parents understand the truth about the new buses.

"Explaining to them, 'You're going to hear that electric buses are expensive, they take too long to charge, driving range of buses is less, that battery electric buses are not good,' " Harris outlined. "But helping them to understand that a lot of this is urban myth and the technology has expanded, and there's more opportunities and more efficiency now."

Currently, electric buses have been implemented on CT Transit systems, but have been out of service for some time. Earlier this year, an electric bus caught fire in Hamden, while parked at a bus depot. Though experts find this rare, CT Transit has taken its electric bus fleet out of service until the cause of the fire is determined. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

And the new funding is just the beginning. The EPA's efforts will split $1 billion a year into grants among school districts across the country, over the next five years. Harris added his is glad to see it, and feels it is an opportunity for kids to learn about a growing industry.

"Exposing our kids to understanding the curriculum and learning opportunities, even the job market," Harris pointed out. "As we expand and grow this new field of providing electric vehicles, you're going to need mechanics, you're going to need technicians. So, the opportunity that's going to be afforded to our students is endless."

The grants will help school districts purchase more than 2,400 electric school buses to speed up the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

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