HOUSTON (November 17, 2023) – While it’s not every day that small communities get to make big splashes, today is an exception. A rural east Texas school district became the first in the country to convert its school route bus fleet to emissions-free electric vehicles. Martinsville Independent School District is now managing all its daily school routes with electric school buses (ESBs) to meet the transportation needs of K-12 bus riders.
Texas Electric School Bus Project (TESBP) learned that the availability of federal grants motivated the school district to purchase four electric buses and associated level II chargers, plus software, for the Martinsville ISD campus and one education partner campus supporting children with special needs.
“This moment in electric vehicle history is especially meaningful because it’s happening in a traditionally oil and gas-rich state. It's a juxtaposition: a rural East Texas town which has converted its daily school bus routes to all electric school buses. Today we shine a light on this small school district and show that it IS possible,” said Jessica Keithan, co-founder of the Texas Electric School Bus Project. “They are a true American success story and an inspiration to everyone who wonders how it is possible,” she added.
The leadership at Martinsville ISD crunched the numbers about a year ago and quickly the calculations pointed to significant savings that could be garnered through lower bus maintenance costs and eliminating the purchase of diesel fuel. Several reports indicate Martinsville ISD has enough savings to funnel the money back into district educational programming or even hire another teacher.
The Martinsville ISD fleet consists of four Blue Bird Corporation Vision ESBs operating on four weekday morning and afternoon routes. Each zero-emission bus can carry up to 71 students for up to 120 miles on a single charge. Based on its battery charging infrastructure, the buses require only a small portion of the day to fully recharge.
“When people learn about the myriad of benefits to community, student health and to economic growth and stability which come from school bus electrification, then making the transition is simply common sense” said Keithan.
The same sentiment is echoed in a poll publicized by the American Lung Association. This poll found that 82% of Americans believe reducing air pollution around children “is not a partisan issue, it is just common sense.”
In a recent article Martinsville students shared that before “when we were waiting to get on the bus, it used to smell weird with the old buses,” Yamilet Garcia, an eighth grader in Martinsville ISD, said. Garcia emphasized, “with these buses, it’s been a lot quieter and a lot nicer.”
Based on national reports, the harmful diesel emissions concentrated in traditional school bus cabins are up to 12 times more than the ambient air outside. Exposure to diesel emissions can lead to serious physical health challenges, including asthma, the number one cause of student absenteeism in America. Reducing student exposure to harmful diesel emissions leads to better educational outcomes, such as improved end-of-year test scores.*
“It is not lost on anyone learning the news that this small Texas school district was the first in the country – before California, New York, and more progressive regions– to achieve this milestone for our kids,” added Keithan. “No doubt, Martinsville ISD deserves an ‘A+’ on their report card.”
Through the Clean School Bus program at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Kimbrough secured $1.58 million in October 2022 to help underwrite the project. A list of available ESB grants and funds can be found here.
Electric School Bus Technical Information
Nuvve Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: NVVE)
Texas Electric School Bus Project’s mission is to facilitate the speedy and equitable transition to a zero-emissions school bus fleet in Texas, and beyond.
Texas Electric School Bus Project