Recycle logoSchools' Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, left, and Public School's Transportation Director Steve Angelo, right, cut the green ribbon on one of the two new electric school buses. / Brynn O'Connor photographs

School officials, state representatives, town employees and community members all clapped as a green ribbon on a school bus was cut outside Arlington High School just before Town Day on Saturday, Sept. 23.

The reason to celebrate? The school bus is one of two new electrically powered vehicles the town recently received as part of a program aimed at reducing carbon emissions and advancing clean transportation technologies.

After two years of planning, the new buses were brought into public view.

Speaking at the podium in front of roughly 20 people were schools' Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, Arlington School Committee Chair Kirsi Allison-Ampe, Town Sustainability Manager Talia Fox, local state Rep. Sean Garballey and others who support the schools' and the town's strides towards a greener future. 

“Arlington is deliberate in its responsibility to mitigate the impacts of climate change so the future environment that these children inhabit is healthy and contributes to their flourishing,” Fox said to the crowd.

In 2021, the town received $326, 579 to replace two older diesel school buses with new model year 2022 battery electric school buses as part of a competitive grant program award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award was part of more than $77 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Projects (DERA) that the EPA awarded nationally. 

In 2018, the Select Board voted on a goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050 and set about to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions in town. According to the town website, Arlington’s Clean Energy Future Committee was tasked with achieving this goal by implementing the Town’s Net Zero Action Plan. Mitigation work focuses on using less energy in buildings, switching to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, and making it safer and easier to reduce pollution in travel around town. According to an inventory conducted for the net-zero plan, pollution from on-road transportation represents nearly 36 percent of overall greenhouse-gas pollution,

“The more diesel buses we can take off the roads and replace them with clean sources of energy, the faster we’ll be able to meet our energy goals here in the commonwealth,” Garballey said. garballey.ribbon.cutting.23State representative Sean Garballey speaks to the crowd at 10 a.m. Sept. 23.

The crowd at Saturday's ceremony cheered when Fox announced that these buses are expected to displace approximately 4,300 gallons of diesel fuel annually and reduce nearly 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“We can’t meet our goals without things like this. This is a huge step in the right direction of meeting our energy goals. This is a big deal,” Garballey said.

Fox said the addition of these two new buses was a long project in the making that raised nearly $1 million in funding. 

“We’ll eventually try and replace the entire diesel bus fleet. We’ve got 13 buses, so that’s the trajectory in the future, and we’ll try to make it happen,” Fox said.

Toward the end of the ceremony, people were invited to relive their school days by stepping inside the vehicle expected to drive the town’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality miles further. 

“It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air emissions and enhance air quality for all town residents and particularly the students who are riding the buses. It’s healthier and safer,” said Fox.

More information about Arlington’s Net Zero Action Plan, town climate resiliency and sustainability measures and the town’s EPA grant can be learned here >>  

Dec. 1, 2021: Town gets EPA grant for 2 electric school buses

The article by Brynn O'Connor, assistant to the editor, was published Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.