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Boston Schools Launch Biggest Electric Bus Fleet in the Northeast

Planning to convert its entire bus fleet to electric by 2030, Boston Public Schools this month will put 20 new electric buses on the roads and collect data on route efficiency, operations and climate and health effects.

Boston buses
Mayor Michelle Wu and School Superintendent Mary Skipper introduce new electric school buses on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023 in Boston, MA.
Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/TNS
(TNS) — Boston will soon be home to the Northeast’s largest electric school bus fleet, Boston Public Schools and city officials announced Monday morning.

“Today we’re excited to celebrate the arrival of 20 electric school buses, which will be hitting the roads and getting more than 2,500 students to and from class every day, right after February vacation,” said Mayor Michelle Wu, standing in front of two new electric buses at the Readville Bus Yard in Hyde Park on Monday morning.

The announcement follows Wu’s commitment last April to convert the entire school bus fleet to electric vehicles by 2030, a big step for the city’s Green New Deal plan.

The first 20 buses cost $7 million, taken out of the district operating budget and pandemic funds, and will service 42 routes.

These first routes were chosen based on “servicing the the economic justice neighborhoods within Boston” as well as traffic considerations, officials said.

“This first phase will provide us with critical information in real time data and is the first step on our path towards expanding electrification across our fleet and across our bus yards in the coming years,” said BPS Transportation Director Daniel Rosengard — who officially took over the job Monday.

The pilot program will collect data on route efficiency, bus operations and climate and health effects.

About half Boston’s buses are still operating on diesel, Wu said, which causes 10-15 times the air pollution and health consequences like higher rates of asthma.

Officials did not give a firm position on whether the new buses should have a significant impact on BPS transportation’s long-standing on-time performance and reliability issues, but Rosengard noted the technology updates present on the new buses should be a positive.

The buses’ battery life should last through an entire day of routes, speakers said, but they will also be recharged during school hours.

The mayor also announced an electric vehicle maintenance program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School starting next fall.

The BPS fleet is just the start, said Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia, with the city structuring changes to make “at least 90 percent of transportation and Boston electric by 2040.”

“When you see that logo, when you see the green bird along with the plug, that is the future of our children,” said Superintendent Mary Skipper. “And the children riding inside are our future.”

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