Boston Celebrates First Electric School Buses

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Forty-two different schools have been selected to have some of their students ride the first electric schools buses in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) school bus fleet.

Mayor Michelle Wu at the event celebrating Boston Public Schools' first electric buses.

Mayor Michelle Wu and other city personnel celebrated the arrival of the first two electric school buses on Feb. 6. Eighteen more buses will be coming to Boston in the coming weeks and are expected to be used following the February school vacation, according to a press release.

“I’m grateful to the many people who have been instrumental in getting Boston to this point and helping us demonstrate the many overlapping benefits of moving to a green economy and ensuring that our kids and our workforce are at the center of that transition,” said Wu. “Today is one of many steps we are taking to make Boston a Green New Deal city and to move with the urgency that our communities and residents deserve. From cutting down on emissions from every part of our education infrastructure – where our students learn and how they get to class – to preparing our next generation of workers to build and sustain cleaner, greener infrastructure for all of us, we’re so excited about where this will lead Boston.”

“When these buses hit the road, they will operate with zero emissions and significantly lower noise levels than their diesel-fuel counterparts," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. "So when you see the buses with the green bird with a plug logo on each side, be sure to wave and smile as they and the children inside represent our great city's future.”

The BPS Department of Transportation selected the first routes – 111 trips, across 42 schools – to run electric school buses based on a variety of factors, including distance from the dispatch yard charging station, total length of route, expected traffic patterns along the route, with a preference for stop-and-go traffic rather than highway driving.

More than 2,500 students will be riding the 20 buses each school day. BPS currently has 620 buses on the road each day. City officials didn't return a request to clarify whether which Jamaica Plain schools were among the 42 schools, albeit a press release said routes travel through nearly all of Boston’s neighborhoods.

BPS is installing 20 charging stations at the Readville bus yard, and each electric bus will have a dedicated charger and be charged every day. The total time to charge each bus is about three to four hours. The city and Boston Public Schools will take what they learn from these first electric buses to implement future electric school bus fleet expansion.

BPS is also training driver trainers, drivers, mechanics, operations staff, and emergency responders to ensure familiarity with the bus design and operation. During February vacation, drivers will test routes so they are comfortable driving the new buses.

The electric buses are replacing existing diesel buses. The electric buses were funded through the BPS operating budget and the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Wu has said the goal is that BPS will replace buses each year until the entire fleet is electrified by 2030.