The Clean School Bus Program, part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, makes $5 billion in rebates available over five years for school districts to purchase electric or low-emission school buses.
In May, the EPA announced the availability of $500 million for the first installment, but because of the overwhelming demand from school districts across the country (and perhaps, the urgency of getting the money out before a new regime on Capitol Hill can kill or cripple the program), the agency increased that amount to $965 million. The application period closed in August, and now the agency has selected (through a lottery system) 389 applications totaling $913 million to support the purchase of 2,463 buses.
Some 95% of these will be electric buses (others have LNG or LPG powertrains), and 99% of the school districts that were selected are in “priority areas,” serving low-income, rural and/or Tribal students. EPA will distribute awards to school districts in all 50 states and Washington DC, along with several Tribes and US territories (see the full list here). More applications are under review, and the agency plans to select more in the coming weeks, to bring the full amount of funding in this round to $965 million.
Recipients can now proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure, after which they must submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders documenting their investments. The EPA is partnering with the departments of Energy and Transportation to provide school districts with technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.
The administration plans to make another billion for clean school buses available in fiscal year 2023, so districts that didn’t get selected in 2022 can try again.
“As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, we are making an unprecedented investment in our children’s health, especially those in communities overburdened by air pollution. This is just the beginning of our work to build a healthier future, reduce climate pollution, and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve.”