Detroit wins $5.9M grant to purchase 15 clean-energy school buses

What’s happening: There will soon be 15 clean- and electric-energy school buses transporting children to and from school in Detroit, this thanks to $5,925,000 in federal funding awarded to Detroit Public Schools by way of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Clean School Bus Program (CSBP) grants.

What it does: The $5.9 million grant will be used to purchase 15 clean energy school buses, which can include buses powered by electricity, compressed natural gas, or propane. The new buses will take older diesel-fueled buses off the roads; air pollution from older diesel engines is linked to harmful effects on children’s health, including asthma.

Why it’s important: “Before the new funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Michigan only had 17 electric school buses,” says Phil Roos, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “This grant program has greatly accelerated Michigan’s transition to clean school buses, helping implement Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan while lowering costs for schools; keeping Michigan on the leading edge of advanced mobility; and, most importantly, protecting the state’s most precious resources, our children, from harmful air pollution.”

Looking out: Detroit wasn’t the only winner here. Lansing and Pontiac public school systems also won $5,925,000 grants toward the purchase of 15 clean-energy school buses as part of the same Clean School Bus Program. And funding through third-party multistate grantees, First Student Inc. and Highland CSB 1, will help purchase 10 electric buses in Flint; five in Redford Union No. 1; and two each in Mason County, Brimley, and the West Shore Educational Service District in Ludington.

What they’re saying: “The Michigan Infrastructure Office applauds Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac for their Clean School Bus Program wins. These federal dollars will purchase new, electric school busses for these school districts, providing a safer and cleaner ride to school for students,” says Michigan Chief Infrastructure Officer Zachary Kolodin. “A single electric bus can eliminate 1,690 tons of CO2 over its lifespan, the equivalent of taking 27 cars off the road. These busses will save schools money on maintenance costs while meaningfully advancing the state’s climate goals.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.