West Springfield-based collaborative to launch fleet of zero-emission school buses

A western Massachusetts bus company is one step closer to introducing “clean” school buses to their fleet
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 1:20 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A western Massachusetts bus company is one step closer to introducing “clean” school buses to their fleet, thanks to funding provided through President Biden’s infrastructure law.

“This will be their first view of what an electric vehicle is what the technology is that’s facing them,” said David Drugan, principal of Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield. “How cool is that?”

State and local officials gathered Monday to formally announce that 25 zero-emission buses will be coming to several Pioneer Valley schools.

“The once-in-a-generation federal funding right now is helping Massachusetts fast-track our efforts to fight climate change. The clean electric buses we are celebrating today represent an investment in our planet, in the Pioneer Valley, and in the health of West Springfield families,” said Bonnie Heiple, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

In December, the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, which offers busing services to seven communities, received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s clean school bus program to purchase more than two dozen zero-emission buses. On Monday, the elementary school’s first grade class even got the chance to ride the environmentally friendly bus.

“The bus ride was quiet, it was not smelly, and in fact, some of the kids noticed that,” David Cash, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Cash told Western Mass News that the goal of the program is to bring a greener and healthier tomorrow.

“This is part of moving in toward the clean energy future. The smell is particulate matter, which can really damage their health,” Cash added.

Traditional diesel buses emit pollutants that can contribute to a number of health issues like asthma. Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of the respiratory illness in the country with 12 percent of children dealing with the disease. It’s a change that West Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Stephania Raschilla said is a welcomed one.

“It’s very exciting to be part of the Lower Pioneer Valley Collaborative initiative,” Raschilla explained. “…but it’s really exciting for the community and for the Pioneer Valley because we know for years how the pollutants have exacerbated the asthma rates in this area.”

While we’re already a month into the start of school, Raschilla said kids could be riding the new fleet by the end of the school year.