The future is precious

October 28, 2022

The future of Washington state is bouncing on the seats, playing “jello”, and raising decibel levels inside school buses every day. And soon, more of them will be doing that inside clean, electric school buses thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean School Bus Initiative, part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.

This week luminaries from Washington, D.C. and Washington state gathered in Seattle to announce a first round of rebates, awarded to hundreds of school districts nationwide to replace older diesel vehicles with cleaner alternatives.

One of the five Washington state school districts that got electric bus funds is on Whidbey Island. Audrey Gmerek, a junior at South Whidbey High, introduced Vice President Kamala Harris and said,

“With bias, I have to say we might have the most beautiful bus rides in the nation. Students, however, have been directly impacted by the environmental deterioration and health concerns caused by the air pollution caused by these diesel-guzzling buses.”

Harris said, 

“Our electric school bus program represents the importance of health, climate, and domestic manufacturing… yellow school buses are the largest form of mass transit in the country.”

Governor Jay Inslee noted that electric buses are being built in Ferndale and batteries in Moses Lake.

Photo courtesy of Leah Missik

Pictured from left to right: Leah Missik with Climate Solutions, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, Sen. Marko Liias, David Mendoza with the Nature Conservancy, and Isaac Kastama with Clean & Prosperous Washington.

Seeing all of these electric school buses at the Lumen Field Event Center, we were reminded of the fleet we saw in service in California. The Twin Rivers Unified School District (outside Sacramento) used proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade program to convert the majority of its school buses to zero-emission, and now operates the largest zero emission bus fleet in North America

The Move Ahead Washington Transportation Package set aside funding for transit decarbonization, so in the upcoming legislative session Washington has an opportunity to consider ways to support school districts across our state as they convert to fleets of clean buses that are a greener shade of yellow.

Clean & Prosperous Washington is a project of the Washington Business Alliance.
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