Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, will soon have a cleaner, quieter ride to school.

The local public school system is replacing 25 of its old diesel school buses with electric. And it plans to convert its entire fleet of more than 1,400 buses to electric by 2035.

“We know that one of the huge benefits of this will be cleaner air inside of school buses, where students are,” says Todd Watkins, director of transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools.

He says that despite the benefits, he hesitated before deciding to go all-electric.

“Electric buses cost about three times what the equivalent diesel bus costs, so I was very reluctant to move in this direction,” he says.

But he found a way to avoid the up-front costs and even save money long-term. Instead of buying the buses, the school system will lease them.

“Included in the lease price is not only the use of the bus, but the planning and installation and managing of all the charging infrastructure, the electric that’s going to run the buses, and also reimbursement for maintaining the buses,” Watkins says.

He says leasing eliminated the barriers to going electric and put the school system on the road to cleaner, more climate-friendly buses.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media