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Baltimore City Schools Unveil 25 New Electric School Buses

The new e-buses in Baltimore are part of a nationwide push to transition the U.S.' 480,000 school buses away from their dependence on fossil fuels. Officials say the new vehicles will mean quieter roads and facilities.

The ride to and from school for hundreds of students in Baltimore is getting quieter and cleaner.

Baltimore City Public Schools launched 25 new electric school buses, making the e-bus school fleet the second largest in the state behind Montgomery County Public Schools.

“The introduction of these electric buses goes beyond reducing our carbon footprint. We’re also contributing to the goals set for the city, the state and the nation. It’s about nurturing a healthier, quieter and more sustainable community,” said Monique Roumo, executive director of operations for Baltimore City Public Schools at the ribbon-cutting event Jan. 30 at the district’s transportation office to introduce the buses.

The district looks “forward to a quieter transportation depot,” she added.

Baltimore City Public Schools, which serves some 75,800 students with a staff of more than 8,900, was awarded a $9.4 million grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which is funded by the 2022 federal infrastructure package. All told, the federal government will invest some $5 billion toward transitioning the nation’s more than 480,000 school buses, which transport around 25 million students daily.

“They are more than just a mode of transportation,” Roumo continued. “They are mobile classrooms on wheels. Our students are learning about environmental stewardship and green technology, firsthand.”

The Baltimore school district partnered with Highland Electric Fleets, an electric school bus as-a-service provider that aids in applying for the grants and softening upfront costs. Highland Electric partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools in its transition to e-buses.

The effort to introduce electric school buses across school districts nationwide is seen as a central piece of transitioning public transportation away from fossil fuels, and reducing children’s exposure to air pollutants.

One in 6 in Baltimore residents suffer from asthma, said Adam Ortiz, mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the EPA, during the ribbon-cutting.

“That’s something that we can do something about, and that’s what these clean buses will help promote ... a healthy neighborhood and healthy students,” he added.

The modern electric buses also send a signal to the thousands of residents who will come into contact with them, said Alan Williams, senior adviser of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs with the office of Vice President Kamala Harris.

“When these buses move around the country, it’s going to give folks a new state of mind who will say, ‘you know what, if the school bus can be electric, why can’t my car be electric?’”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.