Maryland LCV is questioning the recent decision by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education to purchase 90 diesel buses instead of electric ones for the 2024-2025 school year. Despite MCPS's previous commitment to transitioning to electric buses to reduce carbon emissions and improve community health, they cited “supply chain issues” as the reason for this change. However, Maryland LCV points out that these supply chain issues affect both diesel and electric buses equally. This move, costing nearly $15 million, is seen as a step back from the MCPS's initial pledge to work towards a cleaner and more environmentally friendly transportation system which was aimed at benefiting not only the environment but the health of the children, bus drivers, and the community at large.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) had earlier committed to transitioning to electric school buses, which was lauded as a bold step towards minimizing carbon emissions and fostering a healthier environment for both students and the broader community. This move was in alignment with the broader climate goals of the state. However, the recent decision by MCPS to purchase 90 diesel buses instead of electric ones signals a concerning reversal of their initial commitments. Despite citing supply chain issues as the reason for this shift, it's noted that these issues affect both diesel and electric bus deliveries similarly for the 2024 - 2025 school year. This change of stance not only raises questions about MCPS's dedication towards electrifying its school bus fleet but also puts at risk the health of the children and the community due to the harmful emissions from diesel engines.
The decision to continue with diesel buses is viewed by Maryland LCV as inconsistent with the goals of protecting children’s health and transitioning to zero-emission solutions, especially since electric buses offer numerous benefits such as zero emissions, reduced maintenance costs, and improved air quality. Diesel emissions are harmful, particularly to children, and can worsen asthma and other respiratory issues. The change also undermines the efforts to address the environmental and health needs of low-income or disadvantaged communities, who are more affected by pollution from diesel emissions. Maryland LCV urges MCPS and other school districts in Maryland to uphold their commitments to sustainability and public health by investing in electric school buses, emphasizing the importance of community leaders in prioritizing the health of Maryland’s children and taking firm actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.