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Mayor Wu wants to fully electrify Boston's school buses by 2030

Boston Public school buses are lined up on July 23, 2020 in Boston. (Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Boston Public school buses are lined up on July 23, 2020 in Boston. (Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Boston will roll in a small number of electric school buses next school year in a pilot program geared toward fully electrifying the city's fleet in the next eight years, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Wednesday, and the city is also laying groundwork for vocational training around electric vehicles.

Up to 20 electric buses will replace diesel buses in the 2022-2023 school year, Wu said, and the limited rollout will give the city a chance to test-drive the needs associated with electric buses, such as charging infrastructure and maintenance.

Wu said the goal is to fully electrify the fleet — which currently stands at around 700 buses, of which half are diesel-powered — by 2030.

Wu also announced that 10 city mechanics from the public works, police, and school departments will be trained in electric vehicle service and repair, then certified to teach those skills as part of an initiative to train local voc-tech students.

"This will be the trainer model, because then we will be training our young people to be able to step into these jobs right away," Wu told reporters at Roxbury's Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, where she said electric vehicle training will be integrated into the core curriculum starting this fall.

Bill Coughlin, the city's central fleet maintenance director, highlighted how auto service is changing with the proliferation of EVs.

"It is beyond where we started out — points, plugs, condenser, rotate the tires, drum brakes. We are gone. We are into modules, more modules, and computers. And if they don't talk to each other, machine's down. Then it's your job to figure it out," Coughlin said, gesturing to a group of students, "and I know you all will."

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