The Biden administration has been pushing carbon-reduction measures for vehicles throughout the country.
To that end, the White House allocated $1 billion so it could “transform America’s school bus fleet” by switching over to electric-powered models.
Yet, the fourth-largest school district in the state of Michigan said it’s having “significant” issues in performance with the electric school buses, which are extremely expensive.
A presentation that was given to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education in April by Emile Lauzzana, the director of environmental sustainability for the district, highlighted all the issues that the district is having with its fleet of electric school buses.
According to Lauzzana, the buses have “a lot of downtime and performance issues.” They’re also not “fully on the road,” even though they’re “approximately five times more expensive than regular buses.”
Lauzzana added that it’s not just the buses themselves that are expensive. The district also needed to upgrade infrastructure so that it could support the buses, including charging stations. All of that equipment was “originally estimated to be only about $50,000 [but] ended up being more like $200,000.”
The director added:
“I have a number of colleagues in different states who are facing similar challenges. For the school bus market, it’s been challenging for us.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would award almost $1 billion so that the school bus fleet in America could be transformed with “over 2,400 clean school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.”
Even before that announcement took place, though, there were problems that arose with those electric buses.
Back in 2020, the city of Philadelphia removed 25 electric buses from Proterra, an electric bus company that the Biden administration has said is “pretty amazing.” Those buses were removed from the roads in the city because of structural problems, and the cost to the city was $24 million.
A city in Southern California also had to wait many months to repair about a dozen of the electric buses from its fleet. At the time, more than one-third of its total fleet was sidelined due to issues.
The Ann Arbor Public School district also uses electric buses that are powered by Proterra batteries as well as the company’s drivetrain technology.
Despite all those issues already arising in the last few years, Biden included $9 billion as part of the infrastructure bill he put forward in November of 2021 to replace local transit vehicles and school buses with electric-powered models.
Even as the Ann Arbor Public School district is having major problems with its electric bus fleet, Lauzzana said they are committed to buying “additional electric buses.”
That simply doesn’t make a lot of sense to the Michigan Freedom Fund, a conservative group in the state. Mary Drabik, its director of communications, commented to the Washington Free Beacon recently:
“Michigan Democrats have put the (electric) cart before the horse. The technology and infrastructure for electric buses do not exist at this moment … yet, Democrats and school districts insist on purchasing electric buses.”