Education Funding

EPA Doubles Aid for Electric, Natural Gas-Powered School Buses, Citing High Demand

By Evie Blad — September 30, 2022 2 min read
A row of flat-front yellow school buses with green bumpers are parked in front of white electric charging units.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will nearly double its first round of rebates for “clean school buses,” awarding $965 million in response to high demand.

The rebates allow schools to replace existing diesel buses with zero- and low-emissions alternatives, including those that run on electricity and natural gas, and the equipment necessary to support them.

The money is part of a $5 billion fund created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, signed by President Joe Biden last November. The funding for school buses will be distributed over five years.

After initially offering $500 million for the first round of rebates, the EPA received 2,000 applications from every state and territory, with requests totaling nearly $4 billion for over 12,000 buses by its August deadline, the agency said in a news release.

More than 90 percent of applicants requested funding for electric buses, and the rest sought to purchase buses fueled by propane and compressed natural gas. Rebates range from $15,000 to $375,000 per bus depending on criteria like vehicle type.

The EPA will work through remaining applications to verify eligibility and notify selectees in October, it said in a release. It expects to issue an additional $1 billion in rebates in the next fiscal year.

“America’s school districts delivered this message loud and clear—we must replace older, dirty diesel school buses,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “Together, we can reduce climate pollution, improve air quality, and reduce the risk of health impacts like asthma for as many as 25 million children who ride the bus every day.”

The rebate program prioritizes low-income, rural, and Tribal communities.

There are about 480,000 school buses in the United States, and only about 1 percent are powered by electricity. Advocates for converting to more-efficient school buses argue that, because school transportation is so common, widespread changes in school fleets could serve as a tipping point in reducing U.S. fuel emissions and improving consumer acceptance of electric vehicles of all kinds.

As it negotiated specifics what eventually became the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill with members of Congress, the Biden administration included electric school buses as one of its priorities. Officials cited concerns about emissions and fuel efficiency from diesel engines, and poor air quality contributing to conditions like children’s asthma.

But, as Education Week reported in June, many district leaders are still unaware of the funding. Others have logistical concerns about converting their diesel transportation fleets to newer, less-tested technologies.

For example, Tesi Solis, transportation director of the Northside district in San Antonio, Texas, said at the time that the district’s best lot for potential electric buses was overcrowded and had no room to install charging stations.

Other district leaders said their primary transportation focus was on recruiting and retaining enough bus drivers to maintain their routes, which has been a struggle for school systems around the country.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Explainer 3 Steps to Keep Tutoring Going When ESSER Money Runs Out
Schools may lose more than $1,200 per student as enrollment falls and federal COVID relief funds expire next year.
4 min read
Illustration of a dollar sign falling over a cliff.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Opinion Foundations Have Given Money to Schools for a Long Time. What's Actually Working?
Investments in one key area seem to be making a difference when it comes to improving schools.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Education Funding Opinion Education Funders Need to Ditch the Savior Complex
Trust in the input from teachers, staff, community, and students will go a long way toward making initiatives successful.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Education Funding Opinion Foundations Invest in Public Education. Teachers Would Like the Money Spent These Ways
Philanthropies invest millions on trying to improve student achievement. Educators don't always agree on what they're targeting.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."