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Schools have five years to begin electric bus conversion

Apr 14, 2022 12:45 am

Rachel Silberstein is reporting for the Times Union a provision in the newly adopted New York state budget was crafted to transform the school transportation sector, requiring all school buses purchased after 2027 to run on electricity and replacing all 50,000 diesel-fueled buses statewide with electric vehicles by 2035. Environmental advocates applauded the move, but educational leaders and school officials warn that making the goals will be financially and logistically challenging. In the coming years, districts will have to install charging stations and possibly renovate their electrical infrastructure and bus routes to support the new fleets. Brian Cechnicki, executive director at the Association of School Business Officials, said this is the first in a series of state and federal mandates targeting school districts to help governments reach their environmental goals. "These are all things that we, as advocates and schools, will need to be mindful of ... remember, the more you have to spend in these areas, the less you have to spend on teachers and academic programming," he said. The 2022-23 state spending plan infused the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act with $500 million to support electric school buses and charging infrastructure. Studies show numerous benefits to going electric. Diesel fuel has been shown to worsen respiratory illnesses and cause cancer. Electric buses have 70 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than diesel buses, which benefits the environment and results in cleaner air for everyone, according to advocates. Bethlehem Central School District last year became one of the first in the state to start the process of swapping out its diesel buses with battery-run vehicles. The district secured $1 million in funding from the state to supplement the purchase of five electric buses. Read the full story in the Times Union.