Michigan schools to get new pollution-free buses thanks to federal funds

Michigan schools to get new pollution-free buses thanks to federal funds

By Kyle Kaminski

January 9, 2024

More than $17 million in federal grant funding awarded through President Joe Biden’s administration will enable school districts in Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac to purchase dozens of new electric or low-emission school buses. 

MICHIGAN—Public school districts in Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac are getting 45 new electric school buses free of charge, due to federal funding provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Nearly $1 billion in federal grant funding announced this week through the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to enable dozens of public school districts across the country to purchase new fleets of low- and zero-emission vehicles, including electric buses.

All told, more than $17 million was awarded in Michigan to cover the costs for the four school districts. Each district received about $5.9 million each through the agency’s Clean School Bus Grants Competition, which was funded through infrastructure law. 

Federal officials said the funding is designed to help protect children and improve air quality, as well as accelerate the nationwide transition away from gas to low- and zero-emission vehicles.

In a statement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the funds will also boost the economy and help Michigan to retain its longstanding title as the automotive manufacturing capital of the world.

“The program will help us upgrade our school bus fleets and build on work being done across the mobility industry to switch to electric,” Whitmer said. “Let’s keep working together to fund innovative clean energy solutions while prioritizing the health and safety of our kids.”

Michigan is also expected to receive additional funding through third-party groups that provide transportation within multiple states—including First Student Inc. and Highland CSB 1, which also received about $69 million in funds to purchase about 200 buses across the Midwest.

Federal officials said funding was prioritized to school districts in low-income, rural, and tribal communities, which account for about 86% of the projects selected to receive grants this week. 

Through his Justice40Initiative, Biden has vowed to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by pollution. 

“Today’s announcement is just one more example of how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for Michiganders,” US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) said in a statement. “The Lansing School District will receive funds for 15 new electric and low-emission buses that will reduce harmful air pollution for Lansing students that take the bus to school. And other school districts across the state will benefit as well. As Michigan continues to lead the way when it comes to electric vehicles, it will be great to see the next generation taking them to school.”

READ MORE: Federal funds to connect thousands to high-speed internet in Michigan

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  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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