New York schools have five years to begin converting an electric bus

Tomorrow’s K-12 students will board electric buses to get to school, according to the country’s new law.

A New York State budget law enacted Friday seeks to change the school transportation sector on an ambitious timeline, requiring all buses purchased after 2027 to work on electricity and replacing all 50,000 diesel-powered buses in the state with electric vehicles by 2035.

Environmentalists have praised the state’s investment in clean transportation, but educational leaders and school officials warn the implementation will be economically and logistically challenging.

In the coming years, counties will have to install charging stations and may renovate their electricity infrastructure and bus lines to support the new fleets.

And this is just the first in a series of state and federal mandates targeting school districts to help governments reach their environmental goals, according to Brian Chenitzky, executive director of the School Business Officials Association, which has worked for more funding and government flexibility in the field of law.

“There will be a lot of challenges for schools to make the transition in an environment of tax caps and reliance on government assistance,” Chechnytsky said. “These are all things that we, as assistants and schools, will need to be aware of … Remember, the more you have to invest in these areas, the less you will have to spend on teachers and academic programming.”

While there are many state and federal funding streams to support green initiatives, each comes with its own limitations, Chenitzky said.

New York’s Expenditure Plan for 2022-2023 provides $ 500 million for the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Works Environmental Bond Act to support school electric buses and charging infrastructure. The New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will provide technical assistance to home districts The book during the transition.

Studies show many benefits to electric use. Diesel has been shown to aggravate respiratory diseases and cause cancer. Electric buses have 70 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than diesel buses, which is beneficial to the environment and brings cleaner air to students, drivers and the community, according to supporters.

“Our students go to school to study but we endanger them when we send them to school on diesel buses,” Julie Tiga, president of the New York Conservation League, said in a statement. “We have to take into account that asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from school, and currently affects 1 in 10 school-age children in New York State.”

The law does include some flexibility. For example, it allows the state Department of Education to delay implementation if the deadline of 2027 cannot be met without unreasonable cost or parts from abroad, education officials said on Monday. School districts can also apply for a one-year exemption from the department.

Bethlehem Central School District last year became one of the first in the country to begin the process of replacing its diesel buses with vehicles with batteries. The county raised a million dollars through the New York Trucks Incentive Program (NYTVIP) to complete the purchase of five electric buses.

Residents approved the purchase of five buses for the 2021-2021 school year in May 2021, but supply chain problems caused production delays. The expected completion of the plant is scheduled for May 2022 when the buses will be delivered to Bethlehem in June 2022.

It was also approved as part of the bus offer of $ 200,000 for necessary infrastructure, including charging stations for buses.

The district will have an offer to purchase another bus at the polls this May. Assuming the move passes, the county will order one more electric bus for the 2022-23 school year.

“This has been a learning opportunity since it was the county’s first investigation into the use of electric buses,” said county spokeswoman Joe Allen Gardner.

Between NYSERDA’s $ 1 million grant and transportation assistance from the state Department of Education, in addition to other federal and state funding flows that are expected to materialize, “the economic viability of fleet conversion should be achievable over the next few years,” Gardner said.

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