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Nearly $6 Million from EPA powers Pontiac schools’ full transition to electric buses

Pontiac didn’t miss the bus. Not in 2022, when the school district secured U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant funding for 25 electric-powered school buses, and not now, with the announcement of a second round of EPA Clean School Bus Program funding to help purchase 15 more. The grants will make the School District of the City of Pontiac the first in Oakland County to have an all-electric fleet for daily student transportation.

EGLE Director Phil Roos, Regina Strong and Debra Shore board electric school bus in Pontiac.

EGLE Director Phil Roos, Environmental Justice Public Advocate Regina Strong, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore board an electric school bus in Pontiac.


The EPA hosted school officials and regional and state VIPs for an event Tuesday, March 19, at Pontiac High School to celebrate the grant announcement. The district will receive up to $5,925,000 million from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the form of rebates to help purchase the 15 electric school buses, which are expected to join Pontiac’s fleet in time for the 2024-25 school year. 

Detroit and Lansing public school districts each received grants of the same amount, also for 15 buses each. The grants were announced in January.

EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director Phil Roos joined others in Pontiac Tuesday on a demonstration ride aboard an electric school bus and highlighted how these vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save schools money, and better protect student and community health.

“Thanks to the President’s Investing in America Agenda and EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, the Pontiac school district is providing a healthier environment for its students, bus drivers, and school staff,” Shore said. “Upgrading to electric school buses is a major win for the community and will mean reduced air pollution in and around schools.” 

The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will provide $5 billion nationwide over five years, prioritizing districts in low-income, rural, and/or tribal communities. Its first round in fall 2022 delivered $54 million to 25 Michigan public schools and districts to support 138 electric buses and charging infrastructure. The second round delivered nearly $17.78 million for Pontiac, Detroit, and Lansing, along with awards to third-party multistate grantees First Student Inc. and Highland CSB 1 expected to help purchase 10 buses in Flint; five in Redford Union No. 1 near Detroit; and two each in Mason County, Brimley, and the West Shore Educational Service District in Ludington.

In all, more than 200 clean-powered school buses are on the road in Michigan or on their way.

“Clean and electric school buses protect our children and communities and are a key solution to meeting Michigan’s ambitious climate goals,” Roos said. “I applaud the Biden Administration for investing in Michigan school districts like Pontiac.”

EGLE helped bring the first electric buses to Michigan schools, awarding $4.2 million in September 2019 to support the purchase of 17 electric school buses and charging stations to seven districts.

The Michigan Legislature also included $125 million for clean school buses in the state’s school aid budget, which will support the transition to cleaner buses across the state improving air quality and the health of Michigan’s school children.

The transportation sector accounts for almost 28% of Michigan’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most of those emissions come from combustion of gasoline and diesel fuel, including by school buses. Reducing GHG emissions from transportation is vital to meeting the MI Healthy Climate Plan goal of making Michigan 100% carbon neutral by 2050.

Pontiac Interim Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Leverette said electric buses will have a positive ib the well-being of students and the entire community.

“We are ecstatic to have been selected to be part of this game-changing initiative,” she said. “Thanks to an outstanding internal team and exceptional partners, I'm excited to say we're ready to bring 40 electric buses to Pontiac!"

About EPA’s Clean School Bus Rebate Program

The Clean School Bus Program funds electric buses, producing zero tailpipe emissions, as well as propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, resulting in lower tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors. 

The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts, and produce cleaner air. Air pollution from older diesel engines is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and tribal communities. Efforts to minimize the effects of these older diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities through which the buses drive each day.  

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The Program will benefit school districts as they upgrade to cost saving and fuel-efficient school bus fleets, by replacing existing buses with brand new zero-emission and clean school buses and freeing up needed resources for schools. 

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