Jason Aul, Director of Strategic Communications
Maryland League of Conservation Voters


Maryland LCV Questions Montgomery County Public Schools Decision on Diesel School Buses 

Montgomery County Public School Board opts for diesel buses despite similar delivery timelines for electric vehicles

Annapolis, MD (October 16, 2023) –  Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) expresses its disappointment with last week’s decision made by the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education to purchase 90 diesel buses instead of electric school buses. MCPS blamed “supply chain issues” for their abrupt change in plans, however,  the shared supply chain issues affect both diesel and electric bus deliveries for the 2024 – 2025 school year. This decision comes after MCPS had previously made a commitment to transition to electric school buses, which was seen as a strong step toward providing a cleaner and healthier environment for our children and the community and towards meeting the state’s climate goals.

In 2021, MCPS made an ambitious commitment to adopt electric buses, aiming to minimize the county’s carbon footprint and improve the health of its children, bus drivers, and community members from detrimental diesel emissions. However, the recent vote to allocate nearly $15 million for diesel buses, despite similar delivery timelines for electric alternatives, raises questions about the commitment of the MCPS towards electrifying its school bus fleet. 

“The choice to invest in diesel over electric buses given similar supply chain constraints does not align with protecting children’s health or with the urgency of transitioning to zero-emission solutions,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV. “Electric school buses are a responsible and economically sensible choice, offering a host of benefits including zero-emissions, reduced maintenance costs, and improved air quality for the community.” 

The impacts of diesel emissions, particularly on children, are well-documented. Children riding on diesel school buses are exposed to pollutants that can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory issues. Switching to electric school buses both fulfills MCPS’s previous commitments while addressing a dire public health need. Diesel buses also disproportionately affect those from low-income or disadvantaged communities in close proximity to major roadways, who are more likely to suffer from asthma and other pollution-induced conditions.

“Last week’s vote highlights the broader challenges faced in transitioning to clean energy alternatives. This decision is a worrisome change to the county’s previous commitments to electrifying it’s bus fleet, and does not ensure the transportation of students during supply chain challenges. ,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of Maryland LCV and director of Chispa Maryland, a program in Maryland LCV. “It is important to also recognize the disproportionate impact this will have on our most vulnerable populations, particularly Latino/Latina children and those from low-income and disadvantaged communities.” 

Maryland LCV urges MCPS and other school districts across Maryland to honor their commitments to sustainability and public health by investing in electric school buses. It is critical that community leaders prioritize the health of Maryland’s children and communities, and take decisive action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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