BOSTON (WWLP) – School districts across New England are now eligible to apply for a portion of $500 million toward the purchase of zero-emissions school buses.

Through the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the money will be provided in the first round of funding to finance low and zero-emission school buses over the next five years.

As part of this announcement, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu visited New Mission High School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston to highlight the benefits, including the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution, better air quality around schools and communities, and increased employment.

“This new funding can make a big impact here in New England where we have elevated levels of childhood asthma. I urge all eligible school districts to apply,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Over the next five years, this program will deliver $5 billion to school districts to improve our bus fleets and improve health and safety for our kids and communities.”

The investment will also drive demand for American vehicles and batteries, enhance domestic manufacturing, and create good-paying jobs.

McCabe discussed how the funds will make a lasting difference for everyone, especially kids who live in disadvantaged communities.

“EPA is grateful that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is providing funding for communities to speed up the transition to clean, low- and zero-emission school buses. These funds will make a real and lasting difference for everyone, especially kids who live in disadvantaged communities who are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of poor air quality and the effects of our changing climate. Investing in a new generation of school buses makes good sense for protecting peoples’ health, combatting the climate crisis, and for improving air quality everywhere,” McCabe said.

According to a news release from the EPA, with zero-emission and low-emission buses, not only will greenhouse gas emissions be reduced, but the air around bus loading areas and communities that buses travel through will be cleaner, reducing climate change. This will address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling climate change.

Further, zero-emission buses are less expensive to operate for school districts than diesel buses, and the energy stored in zero-emission school buses can be given back to the grid in times of increased energy demand or power outages.

“Today, we are taking an all-hands on deck approach,” said Mayor Wu. “We can’t ask another generation of students to wait and endure what falls short of their potential. We are committed to improving every BPS facility as quickly as possible, and as effectively and efficiently as we can. We are making these investments in our buildings, students, and communities, and will partner with the EPA to do even more.”

Until August 19, the EPA is accepting applications for bus replacements in high-need local education agencies, tribal schools, and rural areas.