Electric School Bus Initiative
Collaborating to equitably electrify the U.S. school bus fleet.
Millions of students ride the bus to school every day, but less than 1% of those school buses are electrified. We’re working with partners and communities to change that.
Exhaust from diesel school buses – which account for the vast majority of school buses on the road today – has proven links to serious physical health and cognitive development issues for students. And children from low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately subjected to this harmful air pollution.
Electric school buses have zero tailpipe emissions, meaning they offer clean and healthy rides. It’s time for an equitable transition to electric school buses nationwide – because every student in every district deserves clean air on their ride to school, starting with those most impacted by diesel pollution.
Electrifying the entire fleet of U.S. school buses would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions while advancing manufacturing and battery development infrastructure for medium-and-heavy-duty electric vehicles across the board. Together, this could create a tipping point for decarbonizing the entire U.S. transport sector – responsible for almost 40% of the nation’s GHG emissions.
WRI is working with partners, including communities, school districts, NGOs, businesses, and local, state and national government, to help build unstoppable momentum in the transition to electric school buses.
Implementation resources & tools
In partnership with the Bezos Earth Fund, 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.
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 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.
WRI is tracking electric school bus adoption across the country, including factors like geography and demographics of the school districts they serve. This map shows where school buses have been announced, procured, delivered or are in operation.
Together with partners, WRI is working in six areas of focus:
Support school districts in accelerating the equitable transition to electric school buses
We are partnering with school districts and school transportation providers to get more electric school buses on the road in more districts nationwide. We’re developing guides, planning documents, tools and resources to help any district begin or continue its electrification journey, and we’re supporting individual school districts with technical assistance — with a focus on low-income communities, communities of color, Tribal/Indigenous communities and those disproportionately impacted by diesel exhaust pollution. With record levels of electric school bus investments on the way, we’re also helping school districts access federal, state and utility funds, prioritizing historically underserved districts.
Collaborate with manufacturers across the electric school bus supply chain in preparing for an equitable and sustainable transition.
We are engaging manufacturing supply chain stakeholders to identify industry bottlenecks and increase electric school bus capacity and availability. We’re collaborating with manufacturers, suppliers, partner organizations, community colleges and other stakeholders to foster an equitable transition from fossil fuels to electric school buses with a focus on workforce preparation. This work is in part informed by our Manufacturing & Supply Chain Steering Committee.
Facilitate understanding of electric school bus business models and promote the expansion of funding and finance options in the electric school bus market.
We’re building a clearinghouse of funding and financing opportunities to improve information access, developing a framework that can be used to understand new business models, and providing a total cost of ownership calculator so districts and other stakeholders can weigh economic considerations.
Engage policymakers at the federal, state and municipal levels to reduce barriers to equitable school bus electrification.
We’re helping communities make their voices heard and advocating for solutions that drive an equity-first transition to electric school buses. This includes work to usher in policy solutions, funding and financing options.
Center communities in pursuing school bus electrification and work with community-focused organizations to help provide the tools and resources to make it happen.
We are working collaboratively with community-based organizations — many of whom have been leading in the electric school bus space for years — to bring about an equitable transition to electric school buses. We're working to center the voices of community members in every school district.
Electric School Bus Advisory Council
- Maia D. Bellon, Partner, Cascadia Law Group
- Keith Dennis, President, Beneficial Electrification League
- Curt Macysyn, Executive Director, National School Transportation Association
- Mari McClure, President & CEO, Green Mountain Power
- Solyana Mesfin, High school student & Student Ex Officio Member of the Kentucky Board of Education
- Melissa Miles, Executive Director, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
- Patty Monahan, Commissioner, California Energy Commission
- Michael Nutter, Former Mayor of Philadelphia
- Tremaine Phillips, Commissioner with the Michigan Public Service Commission
- Victor Rojas, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Capital Advisors
- Gilbert Blue Feather Rosas, Director II Sustainability & Adaptation, Modesto City Schools
- Kellen Schefter, Director, Electric Transportation at Edison Electric Institute
- Nathaniel Smith, Founder & Chief Equity Officer, Partnership for Southern Equity
- Erica Swinney Staley, Executive Director, Manufacturing Renaissance
- Antoine Thompson, Executive Director, Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition
- Carol Tyson, Government Affairs Liaison, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
- Johana Vicente, Chispa National Senior Director at League of Conservation Voters
- Karen Wayland, CEO, GridWise Alliance
- Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
- Harold Wimmer, National President & CEO, American Lung Association
- Kelsey Wirth, Co-founder & Chair, Mothers Out Front
- Curtis Wynn, CEO, SECO Energy
We’re Working with Stakeholders Nationwide
The ESB Initiative is collaborating with school districts, advocacy organizations, electric utilities, manufacturers, financing entities and policymakers across the U.S. to accelerate an equitable transition to electric school buses.
As of June 2022, WRI is providing its highest level of tailored technical assistance in school districts in 11 states: California, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. The ESB Initiative has also identified 11 priority states for dedicated advocacy and policy outreach: Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, California, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon and South Carolina. We continue to work in additional states through partnership with other stakeholders as well.