The United States’ 480,000 school buses account for 80% of all buses nationwide, yet less than 1% are electrified. A concerted effort to electrify all U.S. school buses would reduce annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for all buses in the country by almost 50%. This could create a tipping point for decarbonizing the entire U.S. transportation sector – responsible for almost 30% of the nation’s GHG emissions.  

WRI aims to create unstoppable momentum over the next five years on a path toward electrifying the entire fleet of U.S. school buses by 2030. Overcoming the cost, infrastructure and policy barriers to mass adoption will require an expansive and inclusive approach. This project is supported by the Bezos Earth Fund.

The transition to electric vehicles is an industry-shifting change — one with enormous potential benefits for communities nationwide. Electric school buses can reduce operating expenses for school districts, create new jobs in green manufacturing and generate valuable storage for renewable energy via vehicle-to-grid technologies.

Communities will also benefit from safer and quieter streets and cleaner air. These impacts will be particularly important in high-pollution corridors where underserved communities are disproportionately exposed to health risks.

WRI seeks to engage with the broader constellation of e-bus stakeholders to influence and build on growing electrification momentum.

Together with partners, WRI has developed five areas of focus:

Aggregate demand to drive mass procurement of electric buses

Using a bottom-up approach, WRI, school districts and partner organizations are developing localized electric school bus transition plans and providing other school districts — particularly those in low-income areas — with technical assistance. By increases demand, WRI hopes to bring the electric bus industry to a tipping point of mass adoption.

Scale e-bus manufacturing and drive down unit costs.

WRI is working with original equipment manufacturers to increase e-bus manufacturing capabilities by 800% and make electric buses more cost-competitive against diesel models.

Develop innovative utility and private sector financing models and support smart charging infrastructure deployment.

For example, electrifying the entire school bus fleet can unlock 72 GW-hours of energy storage for utilities via vehicle-to-grid technologies, enabling new opportunities to expand businesses and integrate clean energy.

Unlock public funding and policy support for full electrification of school bus fleets.

WRI is building on recent momentum for electrifying diesel vehicles, such as the Zero Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Initiative and electric school bus proposals introduced in Congress.

Galvanize communities and stakeholders for an equitable and comprehensive shift towards e-buses by 2030.

To ensure this long-term commitment, WRI is centering schools and their communities, raising national e-bus awareness, prioritizing inclusive partnerships, emphasizing co-creation with local communities and implementing innovative engagement across all layers of the project.