First Student Marks Deployment of Six Electric Buses Funded by U.S. EPA


School transportation provider First Student hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Steelton-Highspire School District (SHSD) celebrating the deployment of the first electric school buses in Pennsylvania funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program.

Steelton-Highspire is replacing six of the school district’s seven buses with First Student’s electric emissions-free buses. This upgrade will improve the air quality in the surrounding area, benefiting the health of both students and the wider community. Replacing just one diesel school bus with an electric one can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54,000 pounds annually.

The new buses are backed by First Student FlexCharge chargers with electricity coming from a 1.7-megawatt solar array stationed on the Steelton-Highspire campus, powering every building in the school district. First Student manages transportation for SHSD and collaborated with it to secure EPA funding and install the charging and grid infrastructure for the project.

First Student currently operates more than 330 electric school buses in North America, having already covered over 3 million miles of zero-emission service. The company has committed to transition 30,000 of its diesel buses to electric by 2035.

“First Student is at the forefront of electrifying America’s school bus fleet because we believe these buses are better for students, schools, communities and the planet,” says Kevin Matthews, First Student’s head of Electrification.

“We are the only company in the industry with the necessary resources and expertise to support districts, utilities and municipalities in not just supplying buses but also creating the essential charging and maintenance infrastructure for electrifying school bus fleets,” adds Matthews. “We are immensely proud to partner with the Steelton-Highspire School District to provide student transportation and thank the Environmental Protection Agency for making this moment possible.”

The celebration also featured a ride-along in an electric school bus provided by First Student. Attendees included Pennsylvania state Rep. Dave Madsen, Highspire Borough Mayor Von Hess, Dauphin County Commissioner Justin Douglas, Steelton-Highspire Superintendent Mike Iskric, Steelton-Highspire Business Manager J.J. Carnes, Mom’s Clean Air Force’s Vanessa Lynch, First Student’s Matthews and representatives from PPL Electric Utilities.

The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program provides funding to school districts to assist with the costs of replacing fossil fuel-powered school buses with zero-emission vehicles. First Student has helped school districts apply for this funding and has secured nearly $220 million to date, enough to bring 530 electric school buses to more communities across the U.S.

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