Zum takes strides toward electric future 


Student transportation specialist Zūm has announced that it is offsetting 100% of the emissions from its entire fleet in 2021. Working toward completely transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) by 2025, Zum’s announcement enables school districts to start meeting their sustainability goals right away. As schools around the country welcoming students, faculty and staff back to the classroom, Zum’s investment aims to tackle the 8.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) — the equivalent to over 1 million homes’ annual energy use — that diesel school buses emit annually.

This investment is the company’s latest step in the Zum Net Zero initiative, a program rooted in creating a safer, healthier, more sustainable planet. Zum also recently announced a partnership with AutoGrid to deploy 10,000 electric school buses to create a gigawatt of flexible capacity for the electric grid. The company’s technology and business model also contribute to reducing its carbon footprint by optimizing routes, reducing the total number of assets on the road and overall miles driven, and better utilizing its fleet instead of having assets sit idle.

“We plan for Zum’s entire fleet to be 100% EV by 2025, but we can’t wait for technology to catch up to our ambitions to drive sustainable change,” says Ritu Narayan, CEO and founder of Zum. “Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the USA, and we have an opportunity to make an immediate positive impact on society and provide students with carbon-neutral rides. We invite other transportation companies to join us, so we can increase this impact industry-wide as quickly as possible.”

More than 90% of the country’s 500,000 school buses currently run on diesel engines, which have harmful environmental and health consequences. They emit pollution that disproportionately impacts children  and poorer communities, leading to increased school absenteeism. A new UN report shows we are in a critical moment now, as scientists say we will cross a crucial temperature threshold as early as 2030 — a decade sooner than previously thought — unless deep reductions in greenhouse gases happen right away. The Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill and support for a clean future further accelerates this change, putting a spotlight on the potential for a better system.

“We’re thrilled to be working with a partner like Zum that is not only providing a modern student transportation service for our district, but is also committed to making the world a healthier place for San Francisco Unified students, drivers, families and community,” says Faauuga Moliga, vice president of San Francisco Unified School District School Board. “Zum, by making all rides carbon neutral, is making a real difference starting now, while continuing to work on the zero-emission future as the EV technology advances — and that’s the type of commitment our planet and communities need from student transportation providers.”

As part of this investment, Zum is working with 3Degrees, a firm that helps organizations achieve renewable energy and decarbonization goals, to support verified emissions reductions projects. Those projects include the Winston Creek Forest Project — a 10,000 acre forest in Washington State that serves as a bridge for owls traveling from nesting locations — and the Meridian SF6 Reduction Project — which, in the auto parts manufacturing process, replaces a powerful greenhouse gas that has a global warming impact 22,800 times greater than CO2.

“As organizations work to decarbonize their operations as aggressively and as quickly as possible, supporting emissions reduction projects through the purchase of verified carbon credits is a critical near-term solution to address their direct and indirect emissions,” says Stephanie Harris, director, Carbon Markets at 3Degrees. “We’re excited to see Zum take immediate action to address its carbon footprint as it continues to make progress on transitioning to a completely electrified fleet.”

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Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!