Applications open for federal Clean School Bus Program

By U.S. Senator Alex Padilla

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has made it possible for schools across the United States to offer clean energy school buses as a transportation option through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. EPA will provide $5 billion over five years (fiscal years 2022–26) for the replacement of existing school buses with low- and zero-emission school buses, providing school districts with a unique opportunity to overhaul their fleets, improve student and driver well-being, and promote cleaner air for all. Applications for the first round of $500 million in rebates are due Aug. 19, 2022.

Clean School Bus rebates overview:

School districts applying directly for 2022 rebates may only submit one application to replace up to 25 buses. Under the current rebate opportunity, EPA will prioritize applications for school districts that have been historically underserved, which includes high-need, low-income, tribal and rural school districts.

To be eligible for replacement for the currently available rebates, old school buses must:

  • Be vehicle model year 2010 or older diesel-powered school buses that will be scrapped if selected for funding
    • If a fleet has no eligible 2010 or older diesel school buses and is requesting zero-emission school bus replacements, the fleet can either:
      • Scrap 2010 or older non-diesel internal combustion engine buses;
      • Scrap, sell or donate 2011 or newer internal combustion engine buses
    • Have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more
    • Be operational at the time of application submission — able to start, move in all directions and have all operational parts
    • Have provided bus service to a public school district for at least three days/week on average during the 2021–22 school year at the time of applying, excluding COVID-related school closures

EPA has recorded and live webinars and a Q&A document available to learn more about the current funding opportunity.

Future funding opportunities:

While the Aug. 19 deadline for this first round of $500 million in rebates is around the corner, this will not be the last time to apply for these rebates or grants. There is expected to be a $500 million grant opportunity opening later this year.

Additional resources for the Clean School Bus Program, a roadmap for school bus replacement, and opportunities to take advantage of free technical assistance:

Additionally, local educational agencies may be interested in taking a look at the buyer’s guide for school buses eligible under California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).