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Exploring how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Out with the diesel: New electric school buses will lower emissions in Charlotte, reduce risk of asthma

Three electric school buses will hit Mecklenburg’s streets next August, as the county builds out charging stations and other electric infrastructure.
Courtesy
/
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Three electric school buses will hit Mecklenburg’s streets next August, as the county builds out charging stations and other electric infrastructure.

The federal Clean School Bus Program is helping schools cover the cost of electric buses and charging infrastructure, funding the purchase of over 200 electric school buses in North Carolina. Combined with clean energy tax credits, this is making EVs price-competitive with their diesel counterparts, says Stan Cross, electric transportation director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“Electric school buses produce zero tailpipe emissions, protecting students, drivers, and communities from harmful air pollutants that can lead to asthma, cancer and other heart and lung illnesses,” Cross said.

Cross pointed to studies that indicate reducing exposure to diesel emissions can even improve student test scores. But these aren’t Magic School Buses — EVs are very real and have already been deployed nationally.

“From the frigid upper Midwest to hot southern Florida to the mountains of Western North Carolina, they are reliably and safely moving children to and from school without tailpipes spewing emissions harming public health or contributing to the climate crisis,” Cross said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will deploy three electric school buses at the beginning of next school year. The plan is to roll out over 50 more by next summer, but with over 1,100 buses in its fleet, Charlotte has a long way to go before it’s all-electric.

In related news, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is requesting public feedback on the next phase of the state’s EV-charging infrastructure buildout. See the agency’s website for more details

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Zachary Turner is a climate reporter and author of the WFAE Climate News newsletter. He freelanced for radio and digital print, reporting on environmental issues in North Carolina.