Albany, NY — Federal and state assistance would pay for only about 10 percent of the state’s total effort to electrify its entire school bus fleet, according to a new Empire Center research paper.

Charging Forward: New York’s Costly Rush to Electrify School Buses analyzes the feasibility of a new law requiring New York State’s school bus fleet to be entirely zero-emission by 2035.

Replacing all of the state’s diesel-fuel school buses with electric buses will cost between $8 and $15.25 billion, the report estimates. Of that amount, less than $800 million may be available from a combination of state and federal sources. This will leave school districts and private fleet operators on the hook for nearly 90 percent of the costs.

In addition to the extra cost of electric buses, their limited range compared to diesel buses and their more rapid battery depletion in cold weather and hilly terrain will create substantial challenges for local school districts, especially upstate.

“In its haste to meet an arbitrary deadline, New York risks significantly burdening its local school districts with the rush for electric school buses,” said James Hanley, Empire Center fellow and co-author of the report. “Instituting cleaner transportation options, especially for our children, is a noble and important goal. But most of the benefits that electric buses would bring can be achieved more cost-effectively by purchasing newer diesel models, retrofitting bus equipment or using alternative fuels.”

Read the full report here.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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