EPA Administrator in Alma to speak about electric school buses

2 buses were granted to Wabaunsee USD 329 in December 2022
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:32 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency parked in Alma today to take a look at the 2 new electric buses in the Wabaunsee school district. EPA administrator Michael Regan was excited to see history being made again in Kansas.

“Wabaunsee is one of the first school districts in the nation to receive buses that were awarded through our program,” said Regan, “and these buses are the first ever electric school buses to hit the road here in the great state of Kansas.”

In total, roughly 400 of these electric school buses were sent to districts all over the country, 17 coming to 6 districts in Kansas. Regan says the goal is to lower pollution around kids, especially those with breathing restrictions.

“On the ride to and from that we did a demo of, I got a firsthand account from a student who talked about having asthma and what the difference is like riding an electric school bus versus a diesel powered school bus,” said Regan. “He talked about not only the pollution and the inability to breathe sometimes but he talked about the anxiety that comes along with that. So I am excited to say that we are a part of changing people’s lives.”

Wabaunsee schools received the buses in December and quickly got them on the road at the start of January.

“We chose Alma because we knew that we had leaders on the ground that could demonstrate public-private partnerships, put together competitive grants and be ready to hit the ground running on day one,” said Regan. “This city was prepared to receive these resources which is why you all are some of the first in the nation to receive these electric school buses.”

Wabaunsee USD 329 Superintendent Dr. Troy Pitsch says winning the grant made the switch cost effective.

“These electric buses hit all the right notes,” said Pitsch. “We get to move kids safer, more comfortably and environmentally cleaner back and forth to school. For the district, it takes a little pressure off our budget, it makes us more fiscally responsible. We are saving money for the community and the tax payers, so it’s a win in all directions for us.”

The electric buses are also state of the art with the latest measures in safety and comfort.

“We still got a lot of curiosity. The kids enjoy it,” said Pitsch, “they talk about it and they talk about how much smoother it is and of course it’s a quieter ride and I think they’ll really notice it in the summer time because it has air conditioning and none of our other buses do.”

The cost of each bus that went to Wabaunsee schools was $395,000, about 4 times higher than a traditional diesel powered bus. Regan says he is optimistic that the price will lower in the coming years.

The EPA received a total of 2,000 requests for the electric school buses around the country totaling to over $4 billion dollars and 12,000 buses. The clean school bus program provided electric buses for 404 of those requests making up the first $1 billion dollars of the 5-year, $5 billion dollar program.