This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)

This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)

Editorial: New electric school bus good place to start

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important.

We’ve all by now heard a lot about switching to electric vehicles for our personal automobiles.

And while this is vital to fighting climate change, and just plain making the air around us in the Cowichan Valley cleaner and healthier, we in our personal vehicles are not the only ones on the roads.

Buses, already a good way to cut down on carbon emissions, are starting to go electric, turning them into something of a gold standard. In Cowichan, the school district welcomed its very first electric school bus at the end of May.

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important. We need to cut down on carbon emissions everywhere we can, and transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution in Canada, according to Environment Canada. Environment Canada states that fossil fuel powered vehicles have “major adverse impacts on the environment and the health of Canadians.” It doesn’t get more unequivocal than that. In fact, transportation causes one third of Canada’s air pollution.

Fighting climate change is essential to keeping our planet somewhere that we can actually live. The urgency to do the things that need to be done, like switching to electric vehicles, has largely been missing over the last three decades. Governments have been too slow to move on both policy and concrete action. It is therefore very encouraging to see electric buses starting to hit the road. Cowichan’s one bus will save more than 2,000L of diesel fuel each year, and switching to electric buses will prevent about 5,533Kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

And in terms of pollution, if you’ve ever stood next to a highway with the vehicles whizzing past, you know just how unpleasant the air can get with all of the choking exhaust fumes, hovering close to the ground, where people live and breathe. While certainly not the only source of air pollution, fossil fuel vehicles aren’t helping. Who doesn’t want to be able to take for granted that the air they are breathing in their community is clear, clean and fresh? It’s well known that the Cowichan Valley has even more of a challenge when it comes to pollution, due to the geography (mountains) trapping pollutants. This has led to disproportionate numbers and severity of breathing issues among Cowichan Valley residents. Anything that can help to alleviate that is welcome change.

We’d love to see the entire fleet of buses changed to electric, but our very first is a good place to start.

Editorials