DERA School Bus Rebates Program Applications Accepted

School bus fleet development, school bus emissions, school bus grants


school bus rebates programIf your school district is looking for ways to pay for school bus transportation system upgrades, particularly green upgrades, you have a new opportunity to receive federal funding. The yearly DERA applications from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are open again. But act fast! The window for applying closes on October 30, 2019.

Passed in 2010, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act was an omnibus bill covering numerous topics, but one section established a fund for the EPA to disburse to school districts. Over the years, DERA rebates and grants have helped pay for more than 2,000 new school buses, with recipients typically receiving between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus.

The application paperwork can be accessed via the EPA's website. Here are the most important things to keep in mind.

What You Need to Know About DERA School Bus Funding

Eligibility to apply is broad. Any regional, state, municipal, or tribal government which has authority over school bus fleets is eligible. Businesses based around providing school bus transportation are also eligible to apply, as long as they currently have contracts with a governmental entity that provides schooling.

The grants and rebates are for school bus replacements only, not retrofits or upgrades. Schools or other entities with up to 100 buses can submit an application for up to 10 buses due to be scrapped and replaced. Entities with more than 100 buses can submit two applications, for up to a total of 20 proposed replacements.

For buses to be eligible for the program, they must:

  • Be Class 3 to Class 8 diesel-powered buses weighing over 10,000 pounds
  • Be powered by engines from before 2007
  • Be owned outright, without any active loans or liens
  • Be used to transport 10+ students
  • Be driven 10,000+ miles in the last 12 months and\or in use 3+ days per week in the current year

Also, the engine and chassis must be scrapped before payments will be disbursed.

In turn, the grants/rebates can be applied to buses which are:

  • Purchased, rather than being leased 
  • Running on a 2017 or newer engine
  • Operating on similar routes to the bus(es) being replaced

The new engines are not required to run on alternative fuels. Diesel, gas, or alt-fuel engines are all allowed, as long as they were manufactured in 2017 or later. If the replacement bus is between 10,001 and 19,500 pounds, the rebate will be for $15,000. If the bus is over 19,500 pounds, the rebate is $20,000.

All in all, this is a fantastic deal for districts looking for discounts on fleet upgrades. Again, the window for application closes on October 30, 2019, so interested districts should investigate the EPA's site ASAP and get their paperwork in order.

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Is your school bus fleet in need of upgrades? Have you applied for DERA school bus funding? Let us know below!