UniteGPS – Even private transportation companies can tap into federal funds for clean energy following the announcement of First Student winning grants in six U.S. states to introduce electric school buses into its operations.
The largest private student transportation company in the country collaborated with school districts in California, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, and Rhode Island to apply for the necessary funding to make this transition.
“We are proud to partner with school districts to win grant applications and provide turnkey solutions for school bus electrification,” said Kevin L. Matthews, First Student’s Head of Electrification, in a recent press release. “As the leader in school bus transportation, First Student is committed to leading the way in school bus electrification.”
Funding from these six grants will reportedly come from federal, state, and local levels, in addition to regional utility providers supplying funds for charging infrastructure. This will assist in offsetting the costs for school districts committed to phasing-out diesel-powered buses.
Private companies and electric school buses
Earlier this year, private contractors weren’t exactly sure how to qualify for the Clean School Bus Program stemming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. With funds managed by both the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, the original framework technically prevented private companies like First Student to apply directly for funds. Instead, they had to go through a third-party such as a school district. If anything, First Student has ultimately proven that this is tangible.
Considering that First Student completes over five million rides every day, the company now looks forward to the decreased maintenance costs that come with electric school buses. The health benefits for students will also be immense with each electric school bus eliminating between 14 to 16 tons of annual greenhouse gases.
Even in neighboring Canada, First Student made the largest order of zero-emission school buses in North American history when it requested 260 units from the Canadian manufacturer LionC. Growing at a fast rate between acquisitions and expansions, it’s safe to say that First Student will continue to find success with electric school bus conversions.