Governor Kathy Hochul has mandated that all New York State school buses be electric by 2035. Furthermore, beginning in 2027, districts can no longer purchase gas-operated buses - they must be electric.

Is this feasible or is this another Albany pipe dream?

Statewide School Finance Consortium (SSFC) Director, Dr. Rick Timbs has told his members to start asking questions and coming up with answers in preparation.

In a recent article for the CNYSBA in Syracuse, Timbs said, "consider the following practical matters about Zero-Emission buses as the school district plans replacement schedules to begin in 2027 and end with a full Zero-Emission fleet in 2035:

1. Length of routes in topography, time, and miles.

2. Road conditions and terrain to include traffic, road conditions and special conditions such as low weight threshold culvert covers bridges and roads.

3. The time it takes to recharge the batteries for the next day or a return trip to the school district.
4. What will be the process for charging “out of district buses” and what invoicing structure provides the invoice to recoup the cost of charging?

5. Are there additional safety or security issues with the transition to Zero-Emission buses and related infrastructure?

These questions don't even scratch the surface when it comes to school district's around the state trying to become compliant. It seems nearly impossible. What about the current fleet of gas-powered buses? What do we do with them? Can your school bus garage handle a fully electric fleet of buses?

Let's just look at the numbers. I'll warn you, they are staggering.

New York State has nearly 700 school districts and the state's fleet of school buses, almost all of them gas-powered, totals upwards of 50,000 busses. Here comes the tough part: an electric bus on average will cost a district about $400,000 currently. This means that New York State school districts will need to spend a whopping $20,000,000,000 on new electric school buses between now through 2035. That's $20 billion with a B.

Let's just say, for argument's sake, every district needed the same amount of buses. That would mean that each of the approximately 700 districts would need to spend $28 million each to stay in compliance with Governor Hochul's mandate (Obviously, every district's needs are different). Let's be honest, this only includes the buses. It doesn't include the cost of getting rid of the old gas-powered buses, building or modifying school bus garages, adding enough charging stations and adding the additional electric expense, with hopes that there's enough of a savings from not having to buy gasoline. It also doesn't account for rural districts that travel for hours each day to bring their distant students in for classes. It also doesn't account for winter weather.

I'm not saying an all electric fleet of school buses isn't in our future - I'm just doubting whether or not we can pull it off in New York by 2035.

Click here to read Dr. Timbs' article on questions schools need to ask and then ask yourself, can this be done by 2035, or is it just another New York pipe dream.

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