In Brief

New law creates $45M electric school bus program

By: - August 4, 2022 5:52 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law authorizing the state Department of Environmental Protection to spend $45 million over the next three years to electrify school buses in New Jersey. (Photo by Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

New Jersey will spend up to $45 million over the next three years to install electric school buses across the state.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law Thursday authorizing the state Department of Environmental Protection to buy buses and charging infrastructure and plot a course for districts to electrify their fleets.

The department will give $15 million in grants annually over three years to at least 18 school districts or bus contractors for the electric buses, with half or more of those grants going to communities that are low-income, urban, or overburdened by pollution. New Jersey has about 600 school districts.

Murphy said electrifying school bus fleets gets New Jersey closer to the state’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said electrification will reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels that hasten climate change, extreme heat, and flooding.

“By getting our children off diesel and on to electric school buses, we are better protecting their health and our entire communities from the particulate matter diesel buses spew into our neighborhoods,” LaTourette said.

More than 40% of the state’s emissions come from transportation, and more than 800,000 students ride in one of the state’s 15,000 diesel school buses on any given school day, according to the state.

Environmental justice advocates celebrated the news.

“This generation of kids should be the last generation that gets a toxic daily dose of diesel fumes on the way to school every morning,” Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley said in a statement.

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Ed Potosnak said New Jersey continues to have some of the most polluted air in the nation, and school buses are the most heavily used public form of transportation.

“This bill is a good first step to having our students, especially those who live in already overburdened communities, breathe cleaner air,” Potosnak said.


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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.