Over 12,000 committed* electric school buses have been tracked by WRI Electric School Bus (ESB) initiative across the United States as of March 31, 2022. That’s more than 10,000 additional electric school buses since the release of WRI’s January 2022 dataset and almost a 10-fold increase since WRI began tracking electric school bus adoption in August 2021.
While Thomas has the highest number of committed electric school buses, Blue Bird currently leads in the number of buses that have been delivered or are in operation, WRI says.
Given the strong push by the current administration to zero emission vehicles, electric school buses are gaining more traction in the North American bus market: according to forecasts, 27,000 units are to be built in ten years in the US. It is worth mentioning that New York City school bus fleet must be fully electric by 2035.
WRI Electric School Bus (ESB) initiative
According to a newly-updated report by WRI, districts and fleet operators have now committed 12,275 electric school buses in 38 states. “That’s roughly the size of the entire school bus fleet of North Carolina, and is 6 times higher than our count from January 2022 – reads the paper -. We also identified 60 new districts that have committed to electric school buses, bringing the total to 415. This is a 60% increase in the number of districts from our first count in the summer of 2021”.
The initiative backed by WRI found also that “The vast majority of these buses come from a contract announced at the end of December between bus dealer Midwest Transit Equipment and SEA Electric, a manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles, which promises to convert 10,000 school buses to electric over the next five years”.
WRI has identified “10 different electric school bus manufacturers, with three major players: Thomas Built Buses, Blue Bird, and Lion Electric. While Thomas has the highest number of committed electric school buses, Blue Bird currently leads in the number of buses that have been delivered or are in operation”.
Electric school buses in the US: more are to come
There are now 38 states with committed ESBs, including two new states since January: Mississippi and Montana. Which is the leading state? No surprise, it’s California. States such as Illinois and Connecticut have seen large jumps in committed ESBs since January.
And more are to come: “The EPA is now accepting applications for funding through the Clean School Bus Program, which will award at least $500 million per year exclusively for electric school buses and will prioritize high-need or low-income, rural, or tribal schools”.
WRI says that “Our new data shows that school districts with more non-white residents and higher levels of air pollution have more electric school bus commitments. We must keep front and center the task of ensuring ESB adoption is equitable across low- and high-income school districts”.
* An ESB is considered committed when a school board or fleet operator has either been awarded funding to purchase it or made a formal agreement for a purchase with a manufacturer or a dealer. Committed ESBs also include those that have been delivered to the school district or fleet operator and those that are in operation.