Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Austin ISD officials.

Austin ISD is one of two school districts in Central Texas to receive federal funding toward the purchase of electric buses.

The overview

A total of $6.25 million for 25 electric buses for AISD was announced by the Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 8. The new buses will replace diesel-powered vehicles in the district’s existing fleet.

“Still yellow outside but green inside,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said in a statement to Community Impact. “While they will look the same, our new, electric Austin school buses will be healthier for both our students and our planet.”

The EPA provided the grant to AISD with funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this funding, the EPA created the Clean School Bus Program and has awarded 67 grants to 280 school districts across the nation toward replacing buses, according to the EPA’s website.

“This is especially good news for children in underserved areas who are often exposed to more air pollution and health risks, such as asthma,” EPA Regional Administrator Earthea Nance said in a news release.

The details

AISD officials announced in October 2022 plans to convert all of the district's diesel buses to electric by 2035, as previously reported by Community Impact. AISD is the first school district in Texas to promise the transition.

A total of 548 diesel buses take AISD students to and from school, according to AISD officials. In September 2022, the district began procuring electric buses through manufacturing company IC Bus. This included two 71-passenger buses and one 47-passenger bus with a lift, as previously reported by Community Impact.

"Our district is very excited that we will be able to provide transportation for our students on zero-emission school buses," AISD Executive Director of Transportation and Vehicle Service Kris Hafezizadeh said. "This is an important step towards clean transportation and improved air quality for our students and community."

Why it matters

Diesel emissions from transportation contain pollutants that affect cardiovascular and respiratory health, and may even cause cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students on school buses breathe four times more fumes than those who ride in a car to school, according to a report by the National Resources Defense Council.

Electric buses reduce health risks to students and save the district costs from maintenance and fuel, according to the EPA.

What’s next

The district anticipates replacing 25 diesel buses with electric by the end of January using the grant provided by the EPA. Neighboring district Del Valle ISD also received funding for electric buses.

For more information, visit www.austinisd.org.