Philadelphia schools to spend $41.5M on green buses

(The Center Square) — The School District of Philadelphia will spend $41.5 million replacing older diesel buses with alternative energy school buses, infrastructure and equipment.

The new contract will allow the transportation services to replace diesel buses due to age, reliability and maintenance costs, according to documents from the June 27 Board of Education meeting.

The Department of Transportation Services is seeking the $41.5 million approval and plans to use Sourcewell Cooperative’s Purchasing Program, which allows transportation to leverage lower rates to replace the older diesel buses with alternative-energy buses.

Philadelphia district transportation currently has a fleet of 286 yellow school buses: 206 diesel, 16 unleaded fuel, 38 propane and 20 electric buses.

The Gregory Poole equipment website stated that battery electric Type A buses can cost around $250,000, while diesel versions cost around $50,000-$65,000. Larger electric Type C or Type D buses range from $320,000 to $440,000, while diesel versions cost around $100,000. The website stated that maintenance and fuel for school buses also factor into the total cost.

“These cost savings can add up to around $39,000 per year, which is more than enough to cover the additional cost of an electric vehicle over the bus’s lifetime,” the website stated.

The district received a nearly $8 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to double its electric bus fleet, and it plans to have 40 electric buses by 2027.

The district is continuing to apply for grants for alternative energy vehicles.

“The $41.5 million authorization from the Board of Education is a combination of recent grant awards, anticipated grant awards, and matching funds from Capital Programs over a five-year period. To date, the District has spent $7.7 million on electric vehicles,” said Christina Clark, communications officer for the School District of Philadelphia, in an email to The Center Square.

“We are pleased to be leading the way here in Philadelphia as we grow our zero-emission vehicles fleet and create cleaner and healthier environments for our children,” Superintendent Tony B. Watlington, Sr., said in a press release. “We are grateful to the EPA and our elected officials who are helping us secure these additional funds as we continue to advocate for adequate and equitable funding for our students.”

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