Some BC students’ yellow school buses go green

Thirteen school districts in the province have purchased a total of 18 electric school buses that will begin operating in BC communities by the end of this school year.

Tracey Syrota, Ravi Parmar and bus driver Al Kowalko in front of one of Sooke school district's new electric school buses. School District 62 photo via Twitter.

Students in the Sooke School District, located just outside of Victoria, British Columbia, headed to school last week on the province’s inaugural fleet of electric school buses.

“By shifting gears from diesel to electric school buses, these K-12 students are benefiting from our government’s work to create healthier and more sustainable learning environments across B.C.,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. “Electric school buses produce zero emissions and also support CleanBC’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2030, helping build a cleaner, healthier future for all of us.”

To date, 13 school districts in the province have purchased a total of 18 electric school buses that will begin operating in BC communities by the end of this school year. Altogether, the 18 buses can provide service for about 1,300 K-12 students per day to and from school.

“I am constantly inspired by youth who push us to think about our environmental impact and their future,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “By making green investments in transportation and facilities, B.C. school districts can ensure students live, play and learn in cleaner communities that reflect our shared commitments.”

In a press release issued by the Province of British Columbia, the government says travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter and healthier than traditional diesel buses. Electric school buses are highly efficient, produce zero carbon dioxide emissions and are much more cost-effective to operate over time.

A zero-emission electric school bus saves about 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually compared to a diesel school bus.

“Our kids deserve a clean, healthy future, and that’s why we’re investing in zero-emission school buses in communities across B.C.,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “By acting now to address climate change, we’re demonstrating leadership for young people by reducing pollution, improving air quality and building a more secure future for our kids and grandkids.”

Electric school buses have many advantages compared to diesel school buses, including the cost of electricity compared to fuel and fewer moving mechanical parts, which means they require fewer repairs and less maintenance.

The Ministry of Education’s Bus Acquisition program provided $13 million for 31 school districts to buy a total of 101 new buses, including 18 electric buses. The purchase price for each electric school bus is about $350,000, compared to the $150,000 average cost for an equivalent diesel school bus.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation has allocated supplemental funding of up to $150,000 toward the capital costs of each electric bus.

As a new initiative launched by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation in April 2020, this is the first time school districts in BC have been able to purchase electric buses through funding from both ministries. School districts that buy electric buses also have access to provincial funding for charging station infrastructure.

“We continue to invest in clean energy solutions to reduce emissions and provide future cost savings. These investments allow British Columbians to benefit from sustainable buildings, green transportation options and energy-efficient projects,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Electric school buses will provide quieter rides for students and cleaner air in many B.C. communities.”

The following school districts have purchased electric buses for 2020-21:

  • SD 5 – Southeast Kootenay (one)
  • SD 6 – Rocky Mountain (one)
  • SD 20 – Kootenay-Columbia (one)
  • SD 22 – Vernon (two)
  • SD 23 – Central Okanagan (3)
  • SD 62 – Sooke (two)
  • SD 67 – Okanagan-Skaha (one)
  • SD 68 – Nanaimo Ladysmith (two)
  • SD 69 – Qualicum (one)
  • SD 73 – Kamloops-Thompson (one)
  • SD 79 – Cowichan Valley (one)
  • SD 84 – Vancouver Island West (one)
  • SD 85 – Vancouver Island North (one)


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