Release: Houston mayor, community leaders call on HISD to electrify school bus fleet

Media Contacts
Grace Coates

Clean Energy Associate, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

Houston leaders urge for a cleaner, electric alternative to diesel buses

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined 15 other community leaders on Thursday to call on Houston Independent School District (HISD) to transition to an all-electric school bus fleet by 2035. HISD was recently awarded over $6 million in federal grants from the Clean School Bus Program to purchase 15 electric school buses. Mayor Turner and advocates sent a letter to HISD President Judith Cruz congratulating the district on the award and urging the district to commit to fully electrify HISD’s fleet of over 1,000 buses. 

“Simply sending a child to school should not put their health at risk. Until electric buses replace diesel-burning models, children will be exposed to toxic diesel exhaust that can have a serious impact on their health,” said Grace Coates, Clean Energy associate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.

The mayor and community leaders are very concerned with the health and environmental impacts of diesel-burning buses. The letter noted that “all of HISD school buses, carrying some of the most vulnerable passengers, run on diesel. Numerous studies have shown that inhaling diesel exhaust can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing conditions like asthma. The negative effects are especially pronounced in children. According to the State of the Air from the American Lung Association, in 2021, Harris County had almost 85,000 pediatric asthma cases. ”

All-electric buses are often cheaper for transit agencies, school districts and bus contractors to run in the long-term. To clear air and protect public health, Houston’s mayor and community leaders urge HISD to stop purchasing diesel buses and to make a commitment – as Austin and METRO Houston have already done – to 100% electric buses over the next 12 years. 

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