Mayor Romero and Supervisor Grijalva Support Electric School Bus Federal Infrastructure Program

A week after announcing an initiative to transition Tucson public busing to all-electric vehicles, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, along with Pima District Five County Supervisor Adelita Grijalva, American Lung Association Advocacy Senior Director JoAnnna Strother, and Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, announced support for a similar effort to transition all diesel school buses to zero-emission electric ones at a news conference at C.E. Rose Elementary School on October 6, 2021.

Please click here to download the highlights of the conference

In her remarks to the press, Mayor Romero called on Congress to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure plan and Build Back Better Plans so “our beautiful babies that use our school buses” will be protected from pollution. Later she said pollution is an “equity issue, an environmental issue, and a public health issue. Electrification of school buses and the entire transportation sector is a critical step that we need to take to protect students, the environment, and our entire community.” Outside the formal conference, Mayor Romero expressed hope that Congress will pass the infrastructure plans so Tucson “can get to work on a very necessary investment.”

Tucson Superintendent Trujillo noted that Tucson school buses had already driven half a million miles already this school year, “emitting diesel exhaust, a known carcinogenic that can cause cancer.” 

Strother pointed out that “children have developing lungs and brains and (diesel buses) put them at risk for permanent harm from many air pollutants that come from burning diesel.”

Picking up on Trujillo and Strother’s points, Supervisor Grijalva reminded the audience that that amount of diesel exhaust is a significant amount of pollution that is causing damage to the environment and public safety, saying that cases of “asthma, cancer, premature deaths in children” increase with continued exposure to these vehicles. She supported the partnering of the Mayor’s office, school districts, and organizations like the American Lung Association “because we have to do everything to advocate for change.”

What Romero, Grijalva, Strother, and Trujillo ably convey is that the two infrastructure plans are not just about how many trillion dollars the plans will cost. It is not just about roads, bridges, free community college, and universal Pre K. Passing them is about making people, especially children healthier and the environment and modes of transportation cleaner.

Hopefully, Congress will heed the words said in Tucson on October 6, 2021, and in other cities and towns across the country where mayors like Ms. Romero, county supervisors like Ms. Grijalva, health care activists like Ms. Strother, and school superintendents like Dr. Trujillo, are imploring the nations Representatives and Senators to act for the good of the people and the nation.

The time to put together a deal on the two infrastructure plans is now.