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Electric School Buses

Let's power up New Brunswick's school transportation

One electric school bus at a time!

New Brunswick has nearly 85 thousand students who ride diesel, gasoline, and propane buses to and from school. A growing number of schools are now switching to electric school buses because they emit fewer emissions, cost less, and offer better comfort and safety than traditional buses.

Students are on board — Are you?

"It's really cool that I get to ride on a bus that's so helpful to the environment — I think its a really big step forward."

"Companies are now going electric because that's the future of vehicles. I hope to see more around the world and more people get to ride them."

Current state of electric school buses

in New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick has set ambitious climate and electrification targets for 2030, including reducing GHG emissions to 46 per cent below 2003 levels and requiring 50 per cent of new light-duty vehicles sold in New Brunswick to be zero-emission vehicles. 

While electric school buses would contribute to these goals, only two are currently on the road in New Brunswick. In contrast, our neighboring provinces such as Quebec and Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) have committed to achieving 65 per cent and 100 per cent electric fleets by 2030.

Success story

Our local Neighbors at Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is leading the way in Canada when it comes to electrifying school bus fleets. The Public Schools Branch added 35 electric buses in 2021, bringing the total number of electric buses to 82 in the province. P.E.I. has solved early-adopter challenges, including route planning, charging, and maintenance.  A year later, the province is already seeing savings in fuel costs and a reduction in carbon emissions from transportation. With a 25 per cent electric school bus fleet, P.E.I. is well on its way to full electrification in the next decade. 

The province’s success can serve as a model for other Atlantic provinces to pursue electric school buses through joint purchasing rates. By making the switch to electric school buses, provinces can contribute to a cleaner environment and better health for students and drivers.

MORE RESOURCES

Why should your school make the switch?

Electrifying the entire New Brunswick school bus fleet would eradicate more than 22,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every single year and dramatically improve the air quality that our children breathe on their way to and from school every day.

We are living in a climate emergency, while also facing a health crisis where children’s hospitals are overstretched with kids struggling with respiratory issues. So why are we still powering our school bus fleet with diesel that causes air pollution, poor health effects, and climate change?

Each electric school bus prevents 291 metric tons of climate pollution. Switching to electric school buses will not only lead to zero tailpipe emissions but also protect students’ (and drivers’) lungs by keeping diesel exhaust out of the air inside and outside of the buses.

Children are particularly susceptible to diesel pollutants during their daily commute to school due to their developing respiratory systems and faster breathing rates. Exposure to diesel and gasoline air pollution can also affect a child’s ability to learn at school. Electric school buses do not produce these diesel emissions, as they run on electricity.

Low-income communities and visible minority communities often face higher levels of air pollution. By introducing electric school buses in historically polluted areas, we can reduce the amount of diesel pollution and improve community health. Moreover, electric school buses can have a positive impact on the grid and promote equitable energy distribution. 

Every school bus that transitions to electric can save around 20 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, and a complete transition to electric buses across New Brunswick’s school bus fleet could eliminate over 22,500 tonnes of emissions each year. Especially in schools, where we are trying to teach young people about climate change and action, the electrification of school buses is a meaningful action. 

Electric school buses offer a more comfortable and peaceful ride for students due to their quiet operation, and drivers can better hear everything happening in the bus. With fewer rotating and moving parts, electric buses require less maintenance and have longer lifespans compared to diesel buses. This translates to a competitive cost advantage and improved reliability, making them a smart investment for schools.

How do I take Action?

Electric school buses just make sense. They are healthier, more reliable and a safer choice for our children — but how do we get there? Take advantage of this helpful how-to guide to assist you in gaining our support for electric school buses in your school district.

There can be strength in numbers. You might want to work with a couple of friends, or present at a School Advisory Council (SAC) meeting or Parent Teachers Committee (PTC) meetings to get other parents interested in this issue.

Having support is nice, but not essential.

The easiest and most effective way to find out where your district is in terms of bus electrification is to email or call your transportation manager (NB Contact Details). 

You’ll want to ask things like:

  • Does the district have any electric buses?
  • Do they have a plan/timeline for adding more electric buses?
  • Are they purchasing buses this spring? How many of these will be electric?
  • What are the barriers to adding more electric buses? Logistics? Cost? Uncertainty? 

Ideally, we want all new bus purchases to be electric—but go with what’s appropriate in your district. Is it buying one or two electric buses this year, or is it to conduct a feasibility study?

Remember that District Education Council members are elected representatives. They’ll be happy to talk to you! Reach out by email or phone, and introduce yourself and the issue. You might want to connect with sympathetic trustees to get feedback. 

Next, present to your District Education Council. Tell them about the health and climate benefits of electric school buses (email for help with a presentation template and referenced materials). Try to counter any concerns over funding, and stress long term savings.

Use these links to help you contact your District Education Council:

This letter to Premier Blaine Higgs and Education Minister Bill Hogan advocates for a complete transition to electric school buses in New Brunswick. Please feel free to use this template to help you own letter to the provincial government:

Dear (Minister/Premier),

We need to electrify our transportation in order to meet our climate targets. We can make progress on this by switching New Brunswick’s school bus fleets to electric buses, helping our climate and improving our children’s health.   

Diesel buses cause emissions that are harming our kids’ health, especially those with asthma or other respiratory issues. Switching to electric school buses is a chance to help reduce not only our carbon emissions and meet our climate goals, but also help take pressure off our struggling healthcare system.    

We have only 2 electric school buses in this province. And we have not taken federal funding available to help transition our fleets. This makes no sense in this day and age. Quebec and Prince Edward Island have both made big steps to electrify their school buses, and there is no reason we can’t do the same.  

Please act now to switch over the province’s school buses to electric and mandate that private contractors do the same by 2030. We need to lower our emissions and pressures to the healthcare system in this province. Electric school buses are a great way to do both. Do the right thing to protect our children’s health and meet our climate goals. Take diesel school buses off our roads before they cause any further damage to the health of our communities and our environment. 

Thank you.

Sincerely,
[your name will go here]
[your email address will go here] [your location will go here]

Electric school buses are a big purchase. Things probably won’t change overnight. Keeping the dialogue open and following up is important.

If you’re interested in initiating a campaign in your community or collaborating with us to garner support, contact us at info@conservationcouncil.ca. We would be happy to work with you to bring about positive change for our children and communities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Electric buses use an electric motor and battery pack instead of a traditional internal combustion engine and can be recharged using a charging station or other power source. They are more efficient, require less maintenance, and can store large amounts of power, which can be sold back into the grid or used in emergencies with vehicle-to-grid transfer.

Most electric school buses can travel around 160- 250 kms on a single charge. The travel range of electric school buses can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size and capacity of the battery pack, driving conditions, weather, and the route the bus is traveling. Buses are typically charged overnight (8 hrs), but fast charging (3 hrs) is also possible with some systems. They can also operate in cold temperatures – Alaska’ s first electric school bus is still running at -40!

Electric buses cost more upfront than diesel buses, but they can be cheaper in the long run due to 80% lower running costs and 60% lower maintenance costs. This can save school districts $20-$30K per year per bus. Upfront costs are expected to decline as battery technology improves and demand increases. Vehicle-to-grid transfer can add to financial savings by selling excess power back to the grid. Electric buses can benefit utility companies by expanding and stabilizing the grid, providing surplus energy storage, and responding to an increasing energy demand.

The electric school bus movement is growing across the world and we want New Brunswick to get on board!

Electric school buses just make sense. They are better for our kids’ health and they don’t emit carbon pollution that contributes to climate change and extreme weather. 

It’s time to retire diesel, gasoline and propane buses. These vehicles emit exhaust that hurts students’ health at any exposure level. 

And, we know kids love them—a bus driver who participated in New Brunswick’s pilot project for electric buses told us that his students were proud that their bus was helping to tackle climate change and making our streets a little healthier. 

Now is the time to make the shift to electric.

Here in Canada, our neighbours in Prince Edward Island and Quebec are leading the charge, committing to a fully-electric school bus fleet over the next 10 years.

We can do the same in New Brunswick. We should be replacing all decommissioned diesel, gasoline  and propane buses with electric buses and making a plan for a full shift over the decade ahead. 

We can learn the best way forward from other jurisdictions and take advantage of federal government programs to help with the cost of transitioning. New Brunswick students deserve a safer way to get to and from school! 

Check out the resources below to see how we can achieve a fully electric school bus fleet in New Brunswick—and sign our petition calling on government to get on board with the E-Bus movement! 

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