PPS Greenlights Electric Buses5/12/2023
Portland Public Schools celebrated Earth Day 2023 with some climate-friendly additions to its transportation fleet: three electric-powered buses from GreenPower Motor Company.
The district introduced the new buses to the public on April 5. The buses, which seat 24 students and have a 150-mile range, demonstrate PPS’s genuine commitment to sustainable transportation and protecting the planet for future generations of students, said Assistant Director of Transportation Services Brandon Coonrod.
“We’re trying to make a difference where we can, while putting our kids in the safest vehicles possible,” he said. “We’ve always had safety in mind, but now we can actually do something about the emissions side of safety as well."
The addition of three electric buses represents just a small slice of the district’s long-range plan for environmental stewardship. In March 2022, the school board unanimously approved a wide-sweeping climate crisis policy that will require PPS to reduce emission of greenhouse gasses by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2040.
“Portland Public Schools has now set a bold direction that acknowledges our responsibility to act on climate justice,” Guerrero said shortly after the policy was passed. “From the onset, our students have provided the key leadership in this effort and been on the forefront of insisting we remain assertive in both our goals and action steps that we will work diligently to implement and accomplish.”
A net zero emission goal is undeniably ambitious but the district is tackling the issue step-by-step, beginning with the design and construction of low-carbon new schools and the renovation of existing schools to be energy efficient, resilient, and adaptable.
PPS is also pledging to prohibit new and phase out existing fossil fuel infrastructure, standardize waste prevention practices, increase shade trees and green spaces, promote de-paving projects, and minimize greenhouse gasses from student and staff transportation by encouraging everyone to walk, bike, or telecommute.
As part of the policy, PPS has likewise agreed to monitor and address climate-based impacts on the health, safety and wellness of students and employees and to provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
Coonrod said that PPS decided to enter the electric bus market at just the right time. The current generation of vehicles is more reliable, easier to repair, and more efficient than past models. And the three buses PPS purchased are American-made and get 48 miles per gallon.
“We spent a great deal of time researching the ins and outs of various electric buses and the companies who manufacture them,” he said. “In the end, we went with GreenPower because of their proven track record of producing dependable, road-worthy vehicles. And while I know we’re not the first public school district to invest in these vehicles, we do feel like we’ve done this on the right time table. When you’re spending people’s tax dollars, you make sure to work smarter rather than harder.”