Advocates for electric buses cite cutbacks in cost, pollution

Paul Kurtz
May 03, 2018 - 6:10 pm
Kelly Flanigan, PennEnvironment global warming colutions campaign associate, spoke of the benefits of electric buses.

Paul Kurtz | KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Environmental advocates are citing a new report on the adverse health effects caused by diesel fuel in order to call on SEPTA and Philadelphia schools to transition to electric-powered buses.

Dozens of advocates flocked outside City Hall Thursday to hear the release of the report by PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group. The report found that transitioning to electric buses would save SEPTA and the school district a lot of money while also significantly cutting down on pollution.  

"The asthma rate in Philly is more than twice the national average," said Molly Michel, a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force and a mother of two, who also attended the report hearing. "Our children are jumping onto SEPTA buses every single day breathing in toxic diesel pollution with every single block they travel."

The report concluded  that transitioning all 21,000 diesel school buses in the state would help avoid over 155,000 tons of pollution per year — the equivalent of taking more than 30,000 cars off the road.

Kelly Flanigan, PennEnvironment global warming colutions campaign associate, said the report also suggests ways to pay for what would certainly be a costly turnover.

"The state is receiving $118 million as part of the Volkswagen settlement," she said. "A portion of that money should be used to purchase all electric school and transit buses in addition to charging infrastructure."

Flanigan noted other cities across the world that have committed to protecting public health by transitioning to electric buses. She believes Philadelphia should make the same commitment.

SEPTA is currently installing more than 500 hybrid buses. A pilot program is also set to roll out 25 electric buses.