Amherst group campaigns to convert school bus fleet to electrical power

  • Amherst-Pelham Regional High School.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/11/2019 9:58:46 PM

AMHERST — A campaign to have the fleet of school buses used by the Amherst-Pelham Public School system converted from diesel and gas power to electric power is ramping up.

Mothers out Front recently launched an online petition, which the group anticipates submitting to school officials Dec. 17 with the signatures of community members and students, aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing pollution and improving the health of those affected by diesel exhaust.

On Tuesday, Mothers out Front member Felicia Mednick told the School Committee that transitioning from fossil fuels to electricity will send a message to children that the town is taking the effects of climate change seriously and reducing its carbon footprint.

The petition reads, “We believe it will be possible, in the coming years, to invest in electric buses without raising taxes for the communities by replacing them only as old buses age out and when the projected life-cycle cost is close to that of a diesel bus.”

It also calls on making the transition as soon as feasible for all school-owned buses or those contracted for service, and to look for grants to pay for buses and charging infrastructure.

The campaign comes after the September vote by the Town Council in support of purchasing a new diesel or gas powered bus, repurposing previous capital appropriations of $90,000, instead of investing in an electric bus at a cost in the neighborhood of $325,000.

“We recognize that electric school buses are expensive, so the petition is asking for a thoughtful plan to transition to electric school buses as soon as feasible, and to research both grants and funding partnerships to help with the cost,” Mednick said.

Volkswagen settlement money, about $75 million from Clean Air Act violations after the company was caught rigging its diesel miles-per-gallon numbers i, is a logical funding source, according to the petition, along with leasing the buses or coming to some partnership with electrical utilities.

The campaign began last month at the Jones Library with a presentation by Brian Foulds, chairman of the Climate Action Advisory Board in Concord and a citizen activist who spearheaded a campaign to bring electric buses to that city.


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