Partnership targets electrification of US and Canada school fleet

First Student, First Transit and NextEra Energy Resources have entered into a framework agreement to establish a joint venture to pursue the electrification of tens of thousands of school and public transportation vehicles across the US and Canada. 

The transition to electric vehicles for the school and public transportation sector is expected to play a key role in helping communities improve air quality and environmental health for student passengers, transit riders and area residents. In addition, utilising the sizeable batteries of school and public transportation electric vehicle fleets for distributed energy storage and grid services has the potential to make a significant contribution to long-term sustainable clean energy transition in North America.

The US and Canada combined represent the largest student transportation market in the world, with approximately 520,000 yellow school buses in total. The companies are collaborating to address market opportunities by first capitalising on First Student’s fleet of 43,000 yellow school buses, the single largest fleet in North America, and nearly 500 depots located across 40 US states and seven Canadian provinces. 

First says that combining this scale with NextEra Energy Resources’ expertise is anticipated to help accelerate electrification from individual pilots to broader fleet rollout across the US and Canada.

The US and Canada combined represent one of the world’s largest public transit markets, with approximately 160,000 buses and other vehicles in total. The transit market is anticipating a shift to electric vehicles, driven by an increased emphasis on delivering clean, pollution-free transit solutions.

The collaboration intends to focus on First Transit’s customer base to create new business opportunities and revenue streams associated with fleet electrification.

Matthew Gregory, chief executive, FirstGroup, says: “First Student and First Transit are taking this significant step in order to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions for the communities we serve. 

“We have found a world-class partner in NextEra, who shares our vision of the importance that electrification and zero-emission technologies will play in the future of sustainable transport. 

“The agreement will position First Student as the leading owner and operator of electric school buses, and First Transit as the leading provider of sustainable passenger transportation solutions, in North America.”