By: Ryan Gray
As the Biden administration makes its push to garner support for its ambitious and controversial $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, electric school buses are taking center stage.
Contained within the plan to increase job and wages as well as infrastructure via a corporate tax hike is $20 billion to electrify at least 20 percent of the national bus fleet. It also would provide $32 billion in financing to help electric vehicle manufacturing and address job creation.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Thomas Built Buses plant in High Point, North Carolina, to learn how the “Jouley” Saf-T-Liner C2 is built. The following day, President Joe Biden conducted a virtual tour of the Proterra Electric Battery plant in Greenville, South Carolina. The company provides the electric drive to Thomas Buses.
“I want you all to know, I used to be a bus driver. You think I’m kidding, I’m not,” Biden revealed at the conclusion of the virtual tour. “I worked my way through law school driving a school bus, that’s what I did for summer school and during the year. That’s how I got money to get through law school at Syracuse. A lot of snow, though, a lot of snow.”
First, Biden met with Greenville Mayor Knox White as well as Proterra CEO Jack Allen. Plant employees also demonstrated how the company installs batteries, prepares the bus body for the build, and finalizes assembly.
“I have overwhelming confidence in American enterprise. I’m not being solicitous,” Biden commented. “We can do anything [if] we put our mind to it.”
Proterra began manufacturing electric transit buses in 2009 using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It has sold more than 1,000 electric buses and plans to scale up to 1,000 electric buses produced each year.