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Biden administration plows forward with electric buses even as cities stuck with inoperable vehicles

Despite multiple cities with inoperable electric buses, the Biden administration announced it had selected 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money to purchase over 2,700 “clean” school buses in 280 school districts across 37 states.

Published: January 27, 2024 11:19pm

Cities across the U.S. have purchased electric buses that are inoperable and cannot be repaired. Despite such problems, the Biden administration is providing school districts with $1 billion in taxpayer money to help them transition many of their buses over to electric.

Many of the buses used by transit departments were manufactured by Proterra, which President Joe Biden heavily promoted. The company went bankrupt in August, which has made it hard to get parts and services for the buses, which transit departments are reporting have a number of problems.

The city of Asheville, North Carolina, is the latest municipality to find itself with million-dollar buses it cannot use. The city, Fox News reports, spent millions in 2018 to add five buses to its fleet. Three of them  are out of commission due to mechanical and software problems, and one has a broken door that can’t be replaced.

According to the News & Observer, the company has idled its assembly lines since August, and there’s no word on when the company will resume production.

Asheville is not alone. A transit department in Stockton, California, told Just The News in December it had six of its 17 electric buses in December that weren’t operating. They also reported problems with charging stations.

Duluth, Minnesota, had Proterra buses with cracked chassis and failed to make it up steep hills. The South Philadelphia transit system also had buses that stopped running as a result of cracked chassis. The city of Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, purchased 60 of the buses, and most of them aren’t running.

The transit department service Jackson Hole, Wyoming, purchased eight of the buses, all of which broke down at one point. In December, the department’s director told Just The News they managed to get two running.

Despite all these problems, the Biden administration announced earlier this month that it had selected 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money to purchase over 2,700 “clean” school buses in 280 school districts across 37 states.

“Every school day, 25 million children ride our nation’s largest form of mass transit: the school bus. The vast majority of those buses run on diesel, exposing students, teachers, and bus drivers to toxic air pollution,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in the announcement.

The Clean School Bus Program, which was part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, provides a total of $5 billion for the effort. Some of the buses will be natural gas- and propane-powered.

David Blackmon, energy analyst who publishes “Energy Absurdities,” compared the administration’s determination to continue spending taxpayer dollars on technology that’s producing failing buses to arguments supportive of further attempts at socialism, despite its historic record of failures.

Electric bus supporters are “so overwhelmingly anxious to virtue signal about green energy, they’ve convinced themselves that they're the ones that are going to do it right,” Blackmon said.

A spokesperson for the city of Asheville told Fox that there can be problems with adapting new technologies.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton, California, despite the problems they’ve had with buses, spoke favorably in December of their effort to adopt new electric bus technology.

Blackmon pointed out that the first electric vehicles were invented in the early 1800s. The cars didn’t succeed against gas-powered vehicles because of what Blackmon said is “intractable limitations of applicability of battery technology.”

The Biden administration’s first rounds of awards for the electric school buses provided $42 million of taxpayer money for over 100 low-emission buses in Illinois. It’s not clear how many of those will be electric, but statements by Illinois lawmakers in the announcement said the money would go toward electric buses.

“These grants will set the stage for the rest of our country to move away from fossil fuel and invest in clean, reliable energy that will keep our children safe,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill.

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