First Student expanding school bus electrification

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £2.99.


First Student is increasing the number of electric school buses across its operations, in-keeping with one of the commitments made by owner EQT Infrastructure when it took over the business from FirstGroup.

The company is beginning to receive and operate what will eventually total 260 new electric school buses for its operations in Quebec. The firm placed the order with Lion Electric last May. “At First Student, we recognise the importance electrification will play in the future of student transportation,” said the company’s President, Paul G. Osland. “Our efforts in Quebec are just the beginning of our commitment to lead the industry by implementing zero-emission technologies in our operations. As we start the roll-out of hundreds of electric school buses in the region, we are proud to take this significant step to improve sustainability and the environmental health of our student passengers and the communities we serve.”

The electric school buses are being used by Quebec subsidiary Transco. Deliveries of the buses are expected to continue through the first half of 2023.

The operator has also announced the winning of grants in California, Rhode Island, Missouri, Illinois, Oregon, and Montana to expand school bus electrification. First Student partnered with customers to write, complete, and win grant applications securing funding to introduce electric school buses into their fleets. Funding for the upgrades will come from various sources, including federal, state, and local initiatives. Regional utility providers are also providing capital for charging infrastructure
to supplement the costs for local school districts.

In helping school districts move to electrification, the firm highlights that cost savings of bus maintenance, fuel and operation can be pushed back to the classroom, and that replacing a diesel school bus with an electric one will eliminate as much as 14-16 tons of greenhouse gas annually, the equivalent of filling 500,000 birthday balloons.

“We are proud to partner with school districts to win grant applications and provide turnkey solutions for school bus electrification,” said Kevin L. Matthews, First Student’s Head of Electrification. “As the leader in school bus transportation, First Student is committed to leading the way in school bus electrification.”