School transportation provider First Student has set a goal to transition 30,000 of its diesel buses to electric by 2035.  -  Photo: First Student

School transportation provider First Student has set a goal to transition 30,000 of its diesel buses to electric by 2035.

Photo: First Student

First Student, a leading operator of electric school buses in North America, and Providence Public Schools, joined federal, state, and city leaders to announce the deployment of the first electric school buses in the City of Providence. The four buses also are the company’s first EVs in Rhode Island.

The zero-emission electric school buses will serve hundreds of students and families in the Providence School District (PPSD) and replace four diesel buses in the district’s fleet. First Student and Providence Public Schools made the announcement at an event in Providence featuring U.S Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Reps. Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amon, Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, and Providence Public School District Superintendent Dr. Javier Montañez.

“These four new, electric school buses are an investment in the future.  By replacing aging, diesel buses, we’re putting a down payment on cleaner air, lower carbon emissions, and reduced noise pollution for kids and the community,” said Reed. “I look forward to helping more local school districts and communities throughout the state update their school bus fleets with clean, electric buses.”

“Replacing old diesel school buses in Providence with state-of-the-art electric ones is a clear win for our kids, our environment, and the public health,” said Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Our historic American Rescue Plan helped get Rhode Islanders back on their feet after the pandemic, making smart investments in the Ocean State’s future. There is much more to come on electrifying the nation’s fleet of school buses as part of our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

“Rhode Islanders deserve clean air, and these four new electric school buses take an important step toward reducing air pollution, combating climate change, and improving public health for kids and the community,” said Magaziner. 

“Today’s announcement is a great federal investment in Rhode Island’s families, our environment, and our future,” said Amo. “I am excited that this funding will enable our students to reliably get to school on electric school buses, while helping us fight climate change, build a greener world for the next generation, and help us improve our air quality. This is another example of the success of the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed to put our economy on a path to recovery by investing in our communities.”

$1.2 million in funding for the buses comes from the American Rescue Plan's Clean School Bus Rebates program. The program is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is designed to help school districts replace existing diesel school buses with zero-emission buses. A grant from Rhode Island Energy helped fund the bus chargers and charging infrastructure.

“Reducing pollution and greenhouse emissions through more eco-friendly transportation options will help promote a more sustainable Rhode Island,” said Infante-Green. “We’re pleased to welcome this new school bus fleet which will help students in the capital city go to class as we continue our focus on improving attendance.”

“This is another investment Providence is making in combating climate change and improving air quality throughout our city,” said Smiley. “By providing our students with clean, emission-free transportation to school we are prioritizing the health and well-being of our students and taking a significant step forward in building a greener, more sustainable community. I am thankful to all of our local, state, and federal partners who have helped make this possible.”

“I’m thrilled to see these first electric school buses in Providence. Not only is this a win for the environment - but also the health of our students riding the bus,” said AnderBois. “We will not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but also all sorts of other pollutants and particulate matter that is harmful to breathe. Thank you, First Student, for beginning to electrify in PVD!”

“Electric school buses provide quieter, cleaner, healthier and safer rides for students, ensuring they start their day ready to learn and achieve their full potential,” said Kevin L. Matthews, First Student's head of electrification. “We are proud to help Providence Public Schools deploy the district’s first electric buses, which can provide better learning experiences and healthier futures for children, and we are excited to see this transformative effect here in Providence. We thank the district, city, state and federal champions for making this possible.”

“Providence Public Schools is proud to be a part of the transition to electric school buses and welcome the first four First Student electric school buses in Providence,” said PPSD Superintendent Dr. Javier Montañez. “Our priority is always ensuring our students have the healthiest, safest and best environment for learning. We look forward to working First Student and all of our partners to create healthier and more sustainable futures for our students.”

Originally posted on School Bus Fleet

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