Benefits of Switching from Diesel to Electric School Buses

Lisa Robinson looking at camera

The health and climate benefits of replacing old diesel school buses with electric buses may be significant, according to research conducted by Ernani Choma, Kari Nadeau, and CHDS’ Lisa Robinson. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to air pollution and climate change, but how to best reduce their use is a challenging question. Examining the costs and benefits of options for addressing this problem is essential to informing sound policy decisions. In the case of school buses, replacement is expensive and the related benefits are not well-understood.

To address this challenge, the authors estimated the benefits of replacing diesel with electric buses across geographic areas, finding that these benefits are likely to exceed replacement costs especially in major metropolitan areas. In large cities, they found that the health benefits associated with reduced mortality and childhood asthma total $207,200 per bus. The additional benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the associated climate damages total $40,400 per bus. In less densely populated areas, these benefits may be smaller. However, health and other impacts not quantified in this study, such as children’s exposure to pollutants inside the buses, would increase these benefits.

Because old diesel buses are a large share of the current fleet, replacement can substantially improve social welfare. These improvements may be particularly important in low- income environmental justice communities, where budgets are often tight and health status is a major concern.

Learn more: Read the press release, Electric School Buses May Yield Significant Health and Climate Benefits, Cost Savings
Learn more: Read the publication, Adopting Electric School Buses in the United States: Health and Climate Benefits

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