EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Government officials announced Pennsylvania has been given $34.6 million for 11 school districts to receive 89 new “clean” school buses.

This will be the first round of funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Clean School Bus Program,” created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with a $5 billion investment for low and zero-emission school buses over the next five years.

The “Clean School Bus Program” will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, producing cleaner air and saving money for the school districts.

“Families rely on school buses to safely transport their children to and from school and related activities. We ensure that these buses are safe and that should include safe for our children’s lungs and environment. I thank President Biden for prioritizing pollution reduction and clean energy as part of his broad and comprehensive infrastructure investments. These new buses will decrease air pollution around schools and for schoolchildren,” explained Governor Tom Wolf.

Officials also say diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that are harmful to students’ health, which causes them to miss school.

These school districts were each awarded the following grants:

  • Bradford County: Troy Area School District, Rohrer Enterprises Inc., $2.76 million for seven buses 
  • Dauphin County: Halifax Area School District, Rohrer Enterprises Inc., $1.97 million for five buses
  • Dauphin County: Harrisburg City School District, Wolfington Body Company Inc. $3.95 million for 10 buses 
  • Dauphin County: Steelton-Highspire School District, $2.58 million for seven buses
  • Lackawanna County: Scranton School District, Rohrer Enterprises Inc., $9.87 million for 25 buses
  • Luzerne County: Greater Nanticoke Area School District, Rohrer Enterprises Inc., $5.9 million for 15 buses
  • Mifflin County: Mifflin County School District, Wolfington Body Company Inc., $790,000 for two buses
  • Potter County: Northern Potter School District, Rohrer Enterprises Inc., $790,000 for two buses
  • Tioga/Lycoming Counties: Southern Tioga School District, Brightbill, M A Body Works Inc., $30,000 for one bus
  • Washington County: Washington School District, Navistar Inc., $3.16 million for eight buses
  • Washington County: Avella Area School District, Navistar Inc., $2.76 million for seven buses

“These investments into clean vehicles will pay dividends for these districts, saving them on fuel costs and improving air quality,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. 

Phasing out diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff, and the communities through which the buses drive each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the role of transportation in the growing climate crisis.

“Thousands of school buses transport students to and from school each day in cities and towns across the commonwealth, so these grants will go a long way toward reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring reliable, safe, and clean transportation for Pennsylvania’s most precious cargo — our children,” said Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Acting Secretary Eric Hagarty. 

Last October, PennDOT and PDE asked around 375,000 drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses to issue a survey that will connect interested drivers with schools. Now, more than 1,700 people have expressed an interest in serving as bus drivers. However, there is still a need for between 2,000 to 3,000 more drivers in Pennsylvania. 

Individuals interested in becoming bus drivers can fill out the PA School Bus Driver Interest Form online.