ALEXANDRIA, S.D. (KELO) – Some South Dakota schools will soon have electric buses in their fleet as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program.
The program was created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will be awarding five billion dollars over the next five years to schools around the country to replace diesel-fueled buses with new, climate-friendly electric buses.
The recipients of the first one million dollars were announced this past week and six South Dakota school districts were on the list. The Hanson School District was one of them.
Jim Bridge, the superintendent of the Hanson School District, says the announcement of this electric school bus program couldn’t have come at a better time for his school.
“In schools nowadays, you’re looking for every way that you can try to get ahead. We have a bus that’s been giving us trouble and it’s a diesel bus,” Bridge said. “I don’t want to stick a whole bunch of money into a 12-year-old bus. So when this option became available, I’m all ears. Teach me about it.”
Electric buses are a newer concept for South Dakota, so learning more is just what Bridge plans to do.
“We’re anxious, we’re excited. I mean, I think a lot of questions, you know, can a bus like that in our climate — how does that work,” Bridge said.
He says they’ll also receive the charging station for the bus. Bridge says each charge should last for 100 miles, which is perfect for the school’s bus route.
“Our bus routes are usually around 50 — 50 in the morning, 50 in the afternoon. So you’ll be able to charge it all night, come back in off the route in the morning, charge it during the day, take it back out on the route,” Bridge said.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced this program on Wednesday in Seattle — behind her stood an electric bus, in the same yellow design we are all used to.
“This bus symbolizes so much about our collective investment in our future,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in Seattle on Wednesday.
An investment the Hanson School District is looking forward to being a part of.
“They meet all the safety factors and all of the South Dakota guidelines for, you know, safety inspections and things like that. We’re kind of excited, I guess. We like to pride ourselves on trying to, you know, be out in the lead somewhere for a small school,” Bridge said.
The Hanson School District was awarded nearly $400,000 to purchase one electric bus for its fleet. School districts in DeSmet, Garretson, Lower Brule, Viborg, and Volga were also recipients of some of the $3.6 million going to South Dakota schools.