Every school day 110,000 kids across BC ride the school bus. The time those kids spend on the bus - and the distance they travel - adds up. In all, BC school buses travel roughly 33 million kilometers every year.
Switching from diesel to electric will make those journeys healthier - for our kids and the planet.
The good news is some BC students are already riding electric buses. In May 2021, Sooke School District on Vancouver Island became the first to run an electric school bus. As of Dec. 2021, 18 electric school buses were running in 13 school districts - that's 1,300 students benefitting from this cleaner, greener transportation.
Now we need more electric school buses, in all of our 64 school districts.
NEW FUNDING NOW AVAILABLE IN BC WILL MAKE ELECTRIC BUSES MORE AFFORDABLE THAN EVER!
The federal Zero Emission Transit Fund will cover up to 50% of electric bus costs. Combined with provincial funding, this can cover the entire 100% of electric bus costs. Districts and/or bus operators should let the ASTSBC (the association that co-ordinates bus purchases) their buses and infrastructure needs for the next 3 years by Nov. 30, 2022. All bus operators should have to details - and you can help by getting in touch with your district's operations manager or board chair to ask about this. Please get in touch, [email protected] if you need more info.
There are approximately 1,750 school buses in BC. Roughly two thirds of these are owned by school districts, and one third are owned by private contractors. Each bus has a lifespan of 10-14 years, then it must be replaced. Typically, about 100 buses are replaced every year.
Electric buses can save operators money in the long run. A new electric school buses cost more than twice as much as diesel buses - but because electric buses have very few moving parts, maintenance costs are lower. So are fuel costs. And funding is available through grants and risk-free loans to help bus operators make the switch.
Decisions about next year's school bus purchases will be made in May/June. We want all of those new buses to be electric ones.
Charging ahead with Our Electric School Bus Campaign
Here's how you can get started. - see breaking news above!
1) Connect with other parents in your district.
There is strength in numbers. Your Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is a good place to start building support for electric school buses by finding other parents who care about this issue. We can help you with the research and creating a presentation, or connect you with other parents in your area through the ForOurKids network.
2) Talk to your board and transportation manager.
The BC Ministry of Education provides funding for new buses but decisions about what models to purchase are made by school board trustees (for district owned fleets). School board trustees are locally elected representatives who are there to listen to their communities.
Talk to your transportation manager to find out what your district's plans are for buses - then follow up with your board. Share what you you know about the benefits of electric buses and funding options. Let them know how important this issue is to you and other parents. Consider making a presentation, and make sure to follow up. Find contact details for your school board here.
3) Get publicity.
Media - of all kinds - is a great way to reach a broader audience and build support. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor in your local paper (we can help) or put out your message on your social media channels. Think about how to reach people within your school district.
4) Let your MLA know you care.
Many ForOurKids parents have developed strong relationships with their MLAs. Set up meeting and let them know you'd like to see more funding for electric buses.
5) Learn lots, and have fun!
Electric school buses are exciting! We're talking technological innovations that are revolutionizing the way we get around!
The arrival of electric school buses in BC and this campaign is a chance to explore the impacts of emissions from transportation in general. Explore options for active transportation - walking or riding a bike is the lowest impact option of all. And think about other ways to reduce emissions from transportation in your daily life - carpooling, using public transportation, or even switching to an EV is you are considering buying a new car.
Need help with info or resources?
Check out our resources page for links to funding, a video recording of our presentation on electric school buses and more.
See our faq and backgrounder for in depth information on health and climate impacts and financial benefits.