‘Historic’ Infrastructure Bill Launches Electric School Bus Funding Stream
President Joe Biden signed the long-awaited bipartisan $ 1.2 trillion investment in infrastructure and jobs (IIJA) law that allocates $ 5 billion in new federal funding over five years for electric school buses and low-emission and includes a federal review of school bus stop safety technology.
In an executive order implementing the new law, Biden said the IIJA is “a one-time investment in a generation” and will help rebuild America’s roads, bridges and railways. It will also expand access to clean water, ensure high-speed internet access across the country, tackle climate crises and tackle environmental justice.
After months of negotiations, the House passed the legislation on November 5, and Biden reportedly waited until November 15 to sign the bill so members of Congress involved in passing the legislation could attend a ceremony at the House. White.
Like School transport news previously reported, the IIJA is providing $ 2.5 billion for the purchase of new “zero-emission” or electric school buses and $ 2.5 billion for low-emission school buses made from CNG, propane and biofuels as part of a new clean school bus program administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency. . The funds will be allocated in increments of $ 1 billion ($ 500 million each for zero and low emissions) over the next five years.
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The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) applauded the passage of the bill, which included the original “Stop for School Buses Act.” The bill calls for a comprehensive federal program to prevent illegal overtaking of school buses and requires the US Department of Transportation to review the laws, penalties and enforcement levels for illegal overtaking in all 50 states. The DOT will also review technologies such as video cameras, audible warning systems and improved lighting as well as driver education materials to make recommendations on best practices and most effective approaches.
The NSTA said on Monday that while school buses remain the safest form of transportation compared to all other modes, according to DOT statistics, an urgent issue is for motorists not to give in for stopped school buses. He added that the new program will provide an effective tool for states and local governments to try to prevent illegal overruns.
“Riding a yellow school bus remains the safest mode of transportation to and from school for students,” said NSTA President Carina Noble. “Unfortunately, illegal school bus crossings by motorists continue to plague the country, and DOT’s comprehensive program to tackle illegal overtaking contained in the IIJA will implement a nationwide campaign to educate the local population on this issue. of most concern in the common goal of making student travel even more frequent. safer.
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Meanwhile, the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) has said the infrastructure law represents a monumental victory for the private bus and coach company. The IIJA would have preserved the right of coach companies to operate without unfair competition from government-subsidized transit providers by leaving the charter service rule unchanged, the UMA said.
“The legislation is a landslide victory for all coach operators,” said new WBU President and CEO Scott Michael. “The act includes a five-year reauthorization of federal highway safety, transit, highway transportation and vehicle safety programs. The IIJA contains common sense safety and regulatory provisions, preserves the exemption from the motor coach fuel tax, and includes a new provision to strengthen the fairness of tolls with mass transit vehicles on facilities toll. More importantly, the bill spares costly and unnecessary mandates for an industry still in recovery mode from the effects of the pandemic. “