Diesel school buses spew dirty tailpipe pollution that harms the climate and kids’ lungs, so there’s a growing push for school districts to switch to clean electric buses.
Ian Elder of Jobs to Move America, a research and advocacy group, says that as this transition happens, it’s important to protect the workers who could be affected.
That starts with manufacturing.
“There’s really a robust school bus manufacturing industry in the U.S.,” Elder says. “Until recently … all school buses have been essentially made in the U.S.”
But EV batteries and components are currently primarily manufactured overseas.
So Elder says it will be important to grow the industry here in the U.S. and create high-quality, union jobs that sustain families and communities.
At the local level, he says school district mechanics — who are experienced with diesel buses — will need training to work on EVs.
“Electric vehicles are entirely different and they require different skills, and there is a big training gap,” Elder says.
So he says that as governments develop programs to help districts invest in electric buses, they should also commit to building domestic supply chains and ensuring that workers receive adequate training so the transition can benefit everyone.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media