Electric buses make debut at CMS this fall

CHARLOTTE — This fall, electric buses will join the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools fleet for the first time.

With the help of a $8.6 million federal rebate through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the district is purchasing 55 electric buses by 2026. The first three buses will be on the road by the fall.

“It’s good for the drivers, good for students and of course great for the atmosphere and the environment that we’re in here at Charlotte-Mecklenburg,” Adam Johnson, the executive director of transportation at CMS, said.

According to Johnson, the buses have a range of about 120-130 miles on a full battery charge. He said that should give drivers plenty of wiggle room if they run their morning routes, charge in the middle of the day at the depot and then run their afternoon routes.

In addition to eliminating carbon emissions, CMS said adding these buses help the district meet equity and public health goals.

Traditional school buses run on diesel fuel, which, when burned, contains higher concentrations of pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and other components of smog than your typical petroleum engine. These pollutants are linked with health conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses.

Tom Perez, a senior advisor to the president and the director of internal government affairs, said the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program aims to mitigate kids’ exposure to these pollutants in every neighborhood.

“It’s a disproportionate challenge in communities in communities of color,” he said. “Having electric school buses is part of the broader strategy to make sure that the moment you leave home to the moment you come home, you are breathing clean air.”

CMS is one of 14 districts across North Carolina receiving this federal funding. In total, $19.3 million is coming to the state to help clean up school fleets.

(WATCH BELOW: Proposed ‘Teacher Village’ would create affordable housing for CMS teachers)

Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini, wsoctv.com

Michelle is a climate reporter for Channel 9.

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