January 8, 2024

City Of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools Awarded $20 Million Grant From U.S. Environmental Protection Agency For 50 Green Buses

Transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles part of City’s commitment to the health and well-being of children, families and improving air quality in Chicago.

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that the District has won a $20 million grant to fund 50 low- and zero-emission buses as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. The transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles is part of the City’s commitment to the health and well-being of children and their families and improving air quality in Chicago.

The CPS grant is among $1 billion distributed among 67 awardees under the program, which is made possible through President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

"I am grateful to receive this important investment from the EPA that will expand transportation options for CPS students while making Chicago a more sustainable city," said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. "By serving the communities that need these buses the most, we begin to reverse historic disinvestment in our South and West Side neighborhoods and empower the students who live there. My administration continues to be committed to environmental justice to improve our city's air quality, create green jobs, and to fulfill our citywide climate goal of drastically reducing our carbon emissions 62% by the year 2040.

CPS worked closely with the Chicago Teachers Union to ensure the new buses will serve students and communities located on the and city’s south and west side neighborhoods that are most impacted by poor environmental policies and practices, and historic disinvestment, including:

  • Pilsen, Little Village, McKinley Park, New City, Back of the Yards, North and South Lawndale; and
  • Chicago’s Calumet region - Altgeld Gardens, East Side, Roseland, South Deering.

The communities chosen directly correlate to those designated as environmental justice communities by the Department of Public Health Cumulative Impacts Assessment: Initial Community Input Summary.

“We are thrilled to learn that the EPA has selected Chicago Public Schools to receive a federal grant to help purchase electric school buses,” said CEO Pedro Martinez. “This is a great move for the environment, first and foremost, and a great way to model environmentally friendly practices for our staff and students. We look forward to completing the next steps to secure the grant and support a clean energy model of transportation to and from our schools.”

As a result of the electric buses addition, the District anticipates the following outcomes:

  • a decrease in the amount of local carbon emissions experienced;
  • by students and community members from diesel buses and other forms of hired transportation along bus routes;
  • an increase in student mobility to travel to school activities;
  • work-based learning, workforce training, and professional development opportunities; and
  • fuel and maintenance cost savings.

"This announcement is a win for students, their families and the environment born out of the collaboration between the Chicago Teacher’s Union, City Hall, community members and CPS,” said CTU President Stacy Davis Gates. “When we come together for our students and their classrooms, there is nothing we cannot achieve and this award decision speaks to that collaborative power and the role it can play in increasing the well-being of our students.”

CPS does not operate its own school bus fleet but contracts with a variety of transportation companies and has, in recent years, experienced the impact of the national bus driver shortage. In addition to raising driver wages, recruitment and hiring incentives, and adding more transportation companies, the City and District pursued this grant as another way of addressing student transportation challenges while also celebrating a move toward clean energy. The District will continue to work with the EPA to meet the requirements of this grant award. Procurement and implementation of the new buses will commence over a three-year award period, beginning April 1, 2024.

EPA’s $5 billion Clean School Bus Program, created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, includes both a grant program where selected applicants are awarded funds to purchase buses, and a rebate program that allows selectees to receive awards before purchasing eligible buses that replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models. Today’s Clean School Bus grants are the second round of selections announced for the newly created program. EPA will make more funds available for clean school buses in additional rounds of funding.