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Student Prompts School Bus Change
News Bytes 10/25/2021 46 Comments

For several years, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools toyed with replacing some of its 1,000 diesel buses with cleaner electric vehicles. But school leaders said the change would be too costly. Then 12-year-old student Holly Thorpe showed up at a school board meeting. She came prepared to tout the benefits of going electric. She returned to encourage the district to apply for a state grant.

Two years later, the school board on Wednesday approved a district plan to replace up to 50 diesel buses with electric models over the next several years.

Thorpe is overjoyed the district is making the switch. “It wasn’t imaginary anymore,” says the now-teen. “It just wasn’t like an idea. It was coming to life.”

The transition is part of a small but growing movement led by parents, students, and lawmakers to switch to electric school buses.

Roughly 25 million children ride school buses every year. And though only about 1% of 480,000 U.S. school buses are electric, there are signs that suggest the push to abandon diesel buses is gaining momentum:

— Late last year, the World Resources Institute announced a $37.5 million Bezos Earth Fund grant to help electrify all school buses in the country by 2030. The nonprofit will work over the next five years on the project with school districts, communities, environmental justice groups, utilities, bus manufacturers, and policymakers.

— This year, a suburban Maryland district became the country’s largest to commit to going completely electric. It plans to replace 1,442 diesel buses by 2035. The first 326 electric ones will be leased from Massachusetts-based Highland Electric Transportation.

— California, the country’s electric school bus leader, has funded the purchase of 1,167. The state has budgeted for another 1,000 over the next three fiscal years.

California Energy Commission member Patty Monahan says the main goal is protecting kids’ health. “Some of these kids in parts of Los Angeles are on the bus for an hour, two hours a day. So we want to make sure that they are breathing clean air.”

At Twin Rivers Unified School District in Northern California, diesel buses have been replaced. The district now has 40 electric and 34 that run on compressed natural gas. Officials say the area’s dirty air is noticeably more pure.

Tim Shannon is the district’s director of transportation services. He says one driver expressed appreciation for the change. “He said, ‘I used to have to hold a handkerchief over my face to walk through the yard because of the thick diesel soot.’”

Shannon considers the new buses a good investment. He claims electric buses are 60% cheaper to operate and will pay for themselves over time. With rising gasoline and diesel costs, that’s an added benefit—as long as other energy sources, which provide the battery charges to operate the vehicles, don’t likewise rise.

Efforts to replace diesel school buses are driven by the fact that children are susceptible to health impacts of air pollution. Exposure to diesel exhaust, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can lead to asthma and respiratory illnesses. It can also worsen heart and other lung ailments, especially in children and the elderly.

Over the last 15 years, the EPA has required diesel engines to clean up their act some. Today, diesel school bus engines are much more efficient than they once were. They produce up to 90% less particulate matter (pollution) than models did 20 years ago. With those improved standards, the diesel industry is pushing back against the electric movement. Diesel spokespeople like Allen Schaeffer say moving to electric now won’t change much more in the way of emissions. Plus, they point out, many electric vehicles still charge batteries using electricity sources that come from fossil fuels.

“School districts should be able to choose the bus type and technology that works for them,” says Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “Some may find electric buses a good fit while others will stick with diesel.”

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. — 1 Timothy 4:12

(Holly Thorpe, now 14, stands in front of a school bus at MAST Academy on September 29, 2021, in Miami, Florida. She urged the public school district to begin replacing diesel buses with electric vehicles. AP/Wilfredo Lee)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

That is cool. I am glad that girl had the courage to go into the school board meeting and boost the board members' thoughts about electric buses. I think electric vehicles are a neat idea, but I would personally rather stick with gas, because if I am correct, you can go father on one gas of tank than one charge, and it takes longer to charge your car than to fill up with gas.

2nd Comment

This is ridiculous.
Don't get me wrong, I think that electric vehicle technology is great. However, it seems very wasteful to get rid of buses that have a lot of life left in them.

3rd comment

this is preposterous! i cant see how people are doing this and wasteing busses

This is Mylee

They could make the buses into campers ! I've seen ppl do that before its pretty neat. That way they don't waste it or recycle the metal . This is costly though....


I got nothin to say but... 5th!

Riley D

Yes, but its so much better for the environment.

@ Riley

I agree. I think it's cool that they have electrical vehicles, but I personally think that they should stick with gas. It's better for the environment than the electric, I think.

7th comment

Ok I don't mean to offend any one but while I was reading this all I can think is that it is such a huge wast, and so not environmentally friendly, or very helpful! XD
1st. You are getting ride of working busses
2nd. Like Riley said, it takes longer to power up a electric car, rather than just fill up a gas tank
3d. It even said in the article, that lots of electricity comes from burning fossils ( which creates fumes )
4th. ( my main point ) Once those batteries are dead they clutter up the earth and leak deadly fumes and acids every were, and we haven't figured out how to recycle them, same with even solar panels we don't have a way to get ride of them once they have served their purpose. ( I don't mean that they aren't useful while they work but when they're dead, they don't go away )

Also California should not make more electric vehicles because they can hardly make enough power as it is. Plus I just think that God will find a way ( actually, not will find... already has ) to get ride of all the fumes. ( And I guess I'm adding another argument that's not talked about in the article but it related somewhat ) but when people talked about the global warming from all the carbon dioxide being leashed into the air, it's never really happened, and even if it did, it wouldn't be the end of the world because in the Viking times, the world was much warmer than it is today, and that's when people really thrived, the Vikings were actually growing and having great crops from Greenland, which you can't grow a ton there now. I don't know it just seems like in the long run electric vehicles don't seem to benefit the world environmentally.

8th Comment

wow that seems a lot longer than I thought is was when I was writing it. XD
I just hope nobody gets offended at this it's just my opinion

@Asher E @Nora L

I've also heard it said that tesla's are actually better for the environment after a year, though I do agree with everyone that it is a huge waste.

Not better, but fuels less

Not better, but fuels less bad stuff

than cars (sorry it took 3

than cars (sorry it took 3 comments)

or gas

or gas

When it says Miami-Dade

When it says Miami-Dade County, does it mean Dade City?

Dade City, Florida.

Dade City, Florida.

Electricity also costs a lot

Electricity also costs a lot more than gas.

Plus, electricity isn't

Plus, electricity isn't exactly 'clean energy' is has to come from somewhere, right? So pretty much instead of 'electric cars' they are really just 'fossil cars' or 'coal cars'.

@ people who like gas

Electric is not that bad . Of course a little bit of our electricity does come from coal gas ect but a lot of it is renewable (minus nuclear) wind solar hydrogen . How much waste did it take to keep changing the busses to get the 90% downed fumes? We are supposed to be good stewards of Gods creation and use it so yes we should use gas but not like “we don’t care so let’s just fill our planet with smog” we should use electric but not like these environmentalists that are like we will all die in 2050 if we are not carbon neutral, people are blindly following “scientists “ . Climate change is NOT real yes it was warmer in medieval times . I’ve heard different stories about Greenland both from Christian sources that like you said it was more green then it was now but I also heard that Leif named it that so people would think it was green ..Long story short : We are Gods stewards of this world we are supposed to use it . And take good care of it

I am not against electricity

I am not against electricity but we don't need to change all gas things into electric. Cars and factorys put out very little smog anymore most of the stuff you see coming out is steam. ( except from cars that is just a little CO2, which is very good for the enviroment.)

@ Caleb

How is carbon dioxide good for the environment? I've never heard that before.


You guys should be wary about starting an argument with caleb. Nothing against him, I too used to be like him, trying to pick fights. I looked at his comments before this article, and they seem like he obviously is being sarcastic.

@ Franz R

Yeah that's kinda what I was saying earlier, I'm not against electricity, just I hate how people ( not people on here, just like the people who are selling this stuff but know that it's not green because they are making some of the electricity with fossil fuel ) say it's green cause technically it's not.


yea caleb u cant be sarcastic on the internet


Plants use carbon dioxide to make their food and they give off oxygen.

I don’t believe that global

I don’t believe that global warming is from CO2, like a lot of people said it was warmer in the Middle Ages, and it was colder in the 1700s. But I do think that electric cars or buses are still better than the ones that use gasoline. That’s just my opinion


I think that there’s a difference between carbon dioxide produced by plants and the kind from a veicle



I am not being sarcastic

CO2 is what pkants use to grow the more of it on earth the more plants there will be. CO2 has the same make up no matter where it comes from. It is in its name C-O2. I am not being sarcastic I just have strong opinions. I don't have a problem with electricity I use it all day. I don't know why you all think I am sarcastic I always back my arguments up.


well, what is your strong opinion on this: "The space station is really a bomb and/or a space laser that will blow up the ISS." That's your words, not mine. Aren't you being sarcastic? You don't REALLY believe that, do you? Here's the link everyone:

@ David

That comment was by Caden, not Caleb. Sry if this embarrasses you, but don''t yell at Caleb for something he didn't say. You should probably apologize, too.

@Michah D

Hey thanks Micah for the comment. I really appreciate that, and I'll be more careful with what I say. And sorry caleb if I falsely accused you. I wasn't trying to, I just thought that other name was yours and you were trying to spur others to anger.


I need ya'lls feedback on what I say, just like what micah said. I really appreciate it. I need it because, as solomon says, "faithful are the wounds of a friend"

When it says Miami-Dade

When it says Miami-Dade County, does it mean Dade City?
Dade City, Florida.


They probably haven't answered your question because it MIGHT be phrased weirdly. I don't know the answer to your question.


Are you meaning to say Carbon Monoxide? Because cars give off carbon monoxide, which is dangerous to people. I don't really know if they even give off carbon dioxide.
@Kiara: Sorry, but I don't know the answer to your question.

@Kiara J

When it says Miami-Dade county it means Miami-Dade county. Counties and cities are not the same thing.

@David P

If you look at the comment it says Cadan W.

@David P

Sry didn't see your other post. No problem. I might have strong opinions but I don't try to start fights.

this is Zack @ GIDEON M

Plants don't produce Carbon Dioxide

Sry I did mean CO. It is

Sry I did mean CO. It is still very good for plants. In fact plants cleanse it from the air. Cars do release CO into the air but as it is in an open space it will not harm people because it will go up into the air or the plants next to the road will eat it. The plants actually turn CO into CO2 before they eat it.


Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to, I just thought that was your name.



@Caleb A

Yep ok that is what I thought. :)

I meant does the county

I meant does the county include Dade City because it has two names. Does that make sense?


That does make more sense, but I still don't know the answer to your question.

@Kiara J

Dade City is in Pasco County.

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