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Opinion: Electric Buses Bring Myriad Benefits to McAlester Schools

Thanks to a $2.765 million grant from the EPA, seven all-electric school buses stand to save McAlester Public Schools money in the long run, update its aged bus fleet and help reduce its carbon footprint.

Electric School Bus - Image Courtesy of San Diego Gas and Electric.jpg
Image courtesy of San Diego Gas and Electric (via Twitter)
(TNS) — New buses coming soon to McAlester bring a lot of benefits.

Officials announced McAlester Public Schools was awarded $2,765,000 through the EPA's Clean School Bus program that will bring in seven all-electric Lion Electric Company school buses.

These new buses will update the district's aged bus fleet, help reduce the district's carbon footprint, and much more.

And all these benefits look to be coming at no cost to the district.

"It looks like all of the infrastructure, buses, everything will come at zero cost to the district — and we'll have seven brand new electric buses to put on routes," MPS Superintendent Robert Steeber told us.

This is great for McAlester schools.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 authorizes EPA to offer rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models and set a $5 billion investment in the vehicles over the next 5 years.

Clean School Bus Program applications closed in August 2022 and the EPA received about 2,000 applications nationwide requesting about $4 billion for more than 12,000 buses. McAlester is among 74 Oklahoma schools set to receive new buses through the program this year.

MPS Maintenance Director KC Buck said he and another district bus driver tested the Lion Electric buses, seeing firsthand the expanded passenger seats, user-friendly operation for drivers, and safety benefits on the new buses.

The buses can run 100 miles on a charge — and Buck said McAlester's longest route is 32 miles so the district can do the morning and night routes on one charge before plugging back in overnight.

Not only do the electric buses bring logistical benefits, they help the district reduce its carbon footprint.

The EPA states electric vehicles eliminate tailpipe emissions and, although some studies indicate manufacturing an EV can create more carbon pollution than manufacturing a gas vehicle, the greenhouse gas emissions over EV lifetime is significantly lower than a conventional vehicle.

Electric vehicles also must meet the same safety standards as conventional vehicles.

Plus, the new buses help MPS update its bus fleet. The last major bus fleet addition in McAlester came after voters approve a 2019 bond proposition that allocated $1.2 million in tax payer money for pupil transportation.

McAlester then had a 30-bus fleet that averaged 13 years old per bus with 11 daily route buses ranging from 150,000 miles to 210,000 miles on the odometer.

Buck said the district could receive its first all-electric bus in nine months with the remaining to be delivered before October 2024.

We can't wait for this great upgrade and applaud everyone involved for making it happen.

©2023 the McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, Okla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.