Great news: We started 2020 with a big victory in efforts to fight pollution and bring clean rides to kids in Arizona! Last week, we welcomed the arrival of the first electric school bus in the state’s history!
For the past three years community members, in partnership with Chispa Arizona, have worked to bring electric school buses to Latinx and communities of color across the state. And now, thanks to the tireless advocacy of students, parents and community members, we’re on the path to electrifying the state’s school bus fleets, starting with Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD).
We owe a special thank you to the South Mountain High School students. These young activists, along with Chispa Arizona, attended every school board meeting for nearly an entire year to advocate for electric school buses and demand bold solutions from the school district to clean up our air.
Nearly 300,000 Arizona students ride school buses every day, making it the number-one mode of public transportation in Arizona (and across the country). Almost every public school bus runs on diesel fuel, generating toxic emissions and endangering the health of students and communities.
We are now making even greater strides towards ensuring a healthy community for all. Just before the bus was delivered, I had the opportunity to lead a delegation of Transportation Directors from several Arizona school districts on a visit to Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, to learn about electric school bus funding, charging, and manufacturing. Twin Rivers Unified School District currently has the largest electric school bus fleet in the country, with 30 buses and counting, so it was great to hear firsthand from leading electric school bus administrators how they achieved this.
Twin Rivers confirmed what we already knew: that electrification is a smart investment for school districts and a great way to clean up our air. School districts save money in the long term with electric buses, and children get to breathe cleaner air during every ride. Moreover, batteries can last for over five years and are recyclable. The future of electric buses is here, and we are excited to be part of this movement.
Our community-led programs are proof that our grassroots efforts are paying off. If we continue to engage and support our students, parents, and community, then we will be on a path to converting dirty diesel buses to clean electric buses across Arizona. We know that with your continuous support, together, as a community, this pilot program will be replicated throughout the state.
Thank you for all your support in bringing a clean ride for kids,
Teo Argueta, Chispa Arizona Senior Organizer