The EPA Clean School Bus program, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allocated $5 billion over a five-year period to fund the replacement of older school buses with new zero- and low-emission buses. In May, the EPA made the first tranche of $500 million available, but demand from school districts has been so strong that the agency has now increased the first-round funding amount to $965 million.
During the rebate application period, which closed in August, the EPA received around 2,000 applications requesting nearly $4 billion for over 12,000 buses. Applicants included school districts from all 50 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and several Native American tribes.
More than 90 percent of the funds requested were for zero-emission electric buses—around 9 percent of applications were for propane buses, and 1 percent for CNG buses.
The EPA says it “will move swiftly to review applications submitted and expects to issue a robust slate of awards next month.” Applicants should be notified of their selection status this month. Once approved, school districts can proceed with purchasing new buses and infrastructure.
The EPA is already designing the next rounds of program funding, and encourages school districts not selected in the first round to participate in future rounds.
“America’s school districts delivered this message loud and clear—we must replace older, dirty diesel school buses,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
“I’m especially pleased to see that there is high demand for electric buses among low-income, tribal, and other disadvantaged communities,” said Senator Richard Carper (D-Delaware), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “These are the very communities that stand to gain the most from our clean school bus investments. Given the response to the availability of these dollars, it’s clear that more funding is needed.”