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AUSTIN-- Getting rid of that black cloud of exhaust behind our buses, and the negative health and environmental effects that come along with it, is easier than it may seem. According to a new report from TexPIRG Education Fund and, electric buses are not only cleaner and healthier than diesel buses, but transit agencies and school districts have many affordable options at their disposal to adopt them.
“Each day, millions of Americans, and millions of our children, get on diesel-powered buses that emit toxic fumes that make them sick,” said Bay Scoggin, director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “But we have a better option: the zero-tailpipe emission, all-electric bus. We all deserve cleaner air.”
CapMetro is leading the state in adopting newer, cleaner technologies. CapMetro CEO Randy Clarke is on record as saying that electrification is the future, and the upcoming purchase of 40 electric buses is the first of many actions down that path. TexPIRG Education Fund hopes to continue working with CapMetro to make a commitment for a long term vision of 100% electric transit system by 2030, as other cities like Los Angeles have done.
Many other transit agencies and school districts say it’s just too expensive to switch to electric buses. But that’s not true anymore. The new report, Paying for Electric Buses: Financing Tools for Cities and Agencies to Ditch Diesel, finds that there are several funding and financing options available to help agencies and school districts pay for the upfront cost, many of which can be used in tandem with one another.
One of those opportunities for Texas is the $209 million that will soon be made available by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). While the finalized draft has not yet been released, the TCEQ says it will be ready to start giving out the money as soon as the end of the year. TexPIRG Education Fund notes that there are currently no solid guidelines for how that money will be prioritized. Notably, the first draft says the money will be given out on a “first come, first served” basis. While expediency is needed and important, so too is prioritizing zero emissions technology that clean our air and limit our impact on climate change.
The report recommends that transit agencies and school districts commit to transitioning their fleets from diesel to all-electric by 2030, and implement a plan to phase out the purchase of new diesel buses immediately. For agencies and districts that need to raise additional revenue to make electric bus purchases, the report recommends issuing municipal bonds and implementing local option taxes, while also seeking out available federal, state, or local grant and incentive programs.
“We have the financial tools we need to purchase electric buses,” said Scoggin. “It is time to ditch our old, dirty diesel models and get on the road to a cleaner and healthier world.”
TexPIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.
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