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The BEAST zero-emissions all-electric school bus. Photo courtesy of GreenPower Motors.

Clean Transport

New York Enacts First-in-Nation Plan to Electrify All State School Buses

“New York’s 2023 state budget marks the beginning of a new era for the iconic yellow school bus – one in which children are no longer forced to inhale toxic diesel exhaust and instead breathe clean air on electric buses.

This week an agreement was reached on New York’s annual State Budget. When passed, the budget will enact a nation-leading commitment for New York to achieve the first fully zero emission statewide school bus fleet in the country.

Building on Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State and Executive Budget proposals, this historic legislation aims for all new school bus purchases to be zero emission by 2027, while requiring that all buses in operation are electric by 2035. The budget includes critical new funding to help districts implement this transition by dedicating at least $500 million toward school bus electrification from the environmental bond act that will appear on the ballot this fall. The new law will also require the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to develop an electrification roadmap for New York’s school districts and provide technical support.

Most of New York’s 50,000 school buses currently run on diesel fuel, exposing children across the state to harmful pollutants with proven links to respiratory conditions and cognitive impacts.

This funding follows a recent federal investment in electric school buses in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, including $5 billion in funding for school districts to make the switch to electric and alternative fuel school buses.

Following is a statement from Justin Balik, Senior Manager, State Policy for Transportation Electrification at World Resources Institute:

“New York’s 2023 state budget marks the beginning of a new era for the iconic yellow school bus – one in which children are no longer forced to inhale toxic diesel exhaust and instead breathe clean air on electric buses. This is a historic win for the over two million students who ride the bus to school in New York, and especially for those young people from underserved communities, who too often bear the impact of diesel and other pollution. This plan makes New York the first state in the country to commit to fully electrifying its school bus fleet and sets a clear benchmark for other states looking to protect kids’ health.

“We applaud Governor Hochul for this first-in-the-nation step toward delivering cleaner school commutes for kids while also creating new jobs and combating climate change. We also are especially grateful for the steadfast leadership of both Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Pat Feahy and the tireless efforts of advocacy organizations and other long-time champions of this cause. Now we need to make sure the environmental bond act passes this fall, and we look forward to working with the administration and the education community on the critical implementation work ahead as New York begins this ambitious transition.”

Originally published on WRI’s Resource Institute.

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