© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

15 electric buses are coming to Peoria Public Schools soon. Here's what to know

A Lion Electric school bus outside the plant where the vehicles are manufactured in Joliet, Ill.
Lion Electric
A Lion Electric school bus outside the plant where the vehicles are manufactured in Joliet, Illinois.

Peoria Public Schools District 150 will receive a nearly $6 million federal grant to add 15 new electric school buses to its fleet.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in an announcementearlier this month three Illinois applicants were selected to receive more than $42 million from the Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. They include:

  • Peoria Public Schools District 150 was selected to receive $5,925,000 to purchase 15 clean school buses.  
  • Chicago Public Schools will receive $20,285,017 to purchase 50 clean school buses. 
  • Van Pool Transportation LLC - Beacon Mobility was chosen to receive $15,800,000 to purchase 40 clean school buses. 

In addition, First Student, Highland CSB 1, and Student Transportation of America will receive funding to buy clean buses in multiple states, including Illinois.
District 150 Director of Transportation Joshua Collins said there are several pluses to using electric school buses, including environmental benefits.

“The bus itself is cleaner, so you're not burning diesel fuel on the vehicles, or petroleum-based fuels on the vehicle. So the air around the vehicle is cleaner. So, it contributes to higher air qualities or improved air qualities in the areas the school buses operate,” he said.

The buses also will save money in the long run, he said.

"It's not immediate cost savings because of the investments that have to be made with the infrastructure upgrades, but there will be a cost savings for the district in the future," he said, adding the charging facilities will be housed on district property.

“It's going to be a series of electrical chargers to charge the vehicles, along with some backup generators in case there's a power failure,” he said. “And it will also incorporate some solar to offset some of the additional energy costs that would be incurred from charging the vehicles.”

The application process required the submission of various research and data materials.

“We needed to submit background on the district, how the vehicles would be used, what areas would they be used in, how many students would we anticipate being transported, a number of questions surrounding the use of the vehicles, and then how the district would deploy them, along with letters of support and things that you would normally include in a competitive style grant,” Collins said.

He said the buses should be in use in about a year.

Other area districts also are using electric school buses. The Pekin and Hollis school districts received money for electric buses through the Edwards coal plant settlement, and Williamsfield schools in Knox County also use electric buses.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.