Press Release

Press Release: Electric School Bus Midwest Road Tour Rolls into Columbus

June 23, 2017

Contact: Judith Nemes

Replacing diesel buses with zero emissions buses healthier for kids & reduces pollution; Opportunity for states deciding how to spend $2.7 billion Volkswagen settlement fund;  Adoption will provide boost to state economy

COLUMBUS – A zero emissions electric school bus rolled into Columbus today as part of a four-state electric school bus tour launched by Charge Up Midwest, a partnership of seven Midwest environmental groups. The tour intends to raise awareness about school buses that don’t expose children to harmful diesel pollution as conventional buses do.

The tour, which includes an electric school bus demonstration at each stop, is occurring as state agencies across the Midwest are crafting proposals to allocate their portion of the $2.7 billion in Volkswagen settlement funds. The automaker was ordered to set up the funds after installing devices in diesel vehicles that cheated federal emissions tests.

“The Volkswagen settlement funds offer a tremendous opportunity for states to help school districts switch to electric buses,” says Janet McCabe, former Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. McCabe is a Senior Law Fellow at the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), one of Charge Up Midwest’s partners and organizers of the bus tour. “Zero-emissions electric buses would eliminate toxic diesel pollution that kids on their way to and from school can’t avoid. Getting more electric vehicles on the road benefits everyone who cares about clean air and the health of our children.”

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is leading the process of allocating an expected $75 million to Ohio from the VW settlement fund.

School representatives eager to adopt electric school buses must get that message to the designated state agency if they want to tap VW funds to help pay for them.

“We are eager to learn from electric school bus pilot programs now underway and the benefits these buses will provide, not only to children of the Columbus City Schools, but how this new technology will benefit children all across the country,” said Jeff Vrabel, Sr., Fleet Services Supervisor for the Columbus City Schools.

Efforts to reduce children’s asthma hospitalizations and missed school days would be greatly improved with widespread adoption of electric school buses, health officials assert.

“Studies have shown if all of the older diesel school buses in the US were replaced with buses that used cleaner fuels and technologies, there would likely be 14 million fewer school absences a year,” said Sara Adar, the John Searle Assistant Professor of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Electric school buses are one good way to dramatically improve the health of asthmatic children riding school buses and reduce the number of days that children miss school.”

Charge Up Midwest is a partnership of seven environmental organizations across the Midwest working towards expanding electric vehicle adoption and growing the region’s charging infrastructure. Representatives from ELPC and Lion Bus, based in Quebec, Canada, are taking the eLion electric school bus on the road. The weeklong tour (#TrackTheTour) includes stops in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Columbus.

AEP Ohio and Duke Energy are sponsoring transport of the electric school bus for the Ohio leg of the tour.

Learn more about Midwest states’ opportunities to access VW settlement funds.