BOSTON — Transit agencies and school districts in Massachusetts should transition to all-electric bus fleets by 2030 and turn to borrowing and local option taxes to ensure they phase out polluting diesel buses, according to a new report.
The report, released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Education Fund and Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center, concludes that plans should be implemented immediately to achieve the goal in 12 years.
"Climate change is accelerating and transportation is now the biggest climate polluter," Ben Hellerstein, director of Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center, said in a statement. "Switching to all-electric buses will clean the air we breathe and reduce the risks of global warming."
According to the report, electric transit buses, at $700,000, cost around $200,000 more than diesel buses, but associated lifetime fuel and maintenance savings are around $400,000. Electric school buses, at $230,000, cost around $120,000 more than diesel school buses, but lifetime savings associated with electric school buses are around $170,000.
While municipal borrowing and local option taxes often encounter resistance, the report urges public agencies to pursue other financing options too. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority are using Volkswagen settlement funds to buy electric buses, according to the report, while the Twin Rivers Unified School District in California secured $1 million for charging infrastructure from the local utility and the federally funded Drive Clean Chicago program has made $10 million available for the purchase of electric buses and trucks.
California's fleet of electric school buses has grown to more 150, according to the report. In 2017, 568 electric transit buses were on the road in the U.S., up from 17 in 2009.
Legislation would need to pass on Beacon Hill to enable cities and towns to adopt local option transportation taxes.