Resources Will Help School Districts and Bus Operators Remove Fossil Fuel Vehicles and Transportation Emissions

September 15, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap and The Electric School Bus Guidebook to help New York P-12 schools transition bus fleets to zero-emission. These new resources provide school districts and bus operators with the technical and financial assistance necessary to remove fossil fuel vehicles from service and help reduce transportation emissions with a focus on disadvantaged communities and high-need school districts. Today’s announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and New York State’s requirements that all new school buses sold in New York State be zero-emission by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero-emission by 2035.

“As New York State continues to lead the way in the fight against climate change, we must address the ways that fossil-fuel powered transportation directly affects our families and communities with emissions from school buses at the top of that list,” Governor Hochul said. “Providing the tools for school districts to swap out diesel and gas school buses with zero-emission bus fleets will help students and their communities across the state breathe cleaner air and enjoy a healthier way of life.”

The New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap outlines costs, challenges and proposed recommendations that New York State and key partners – including utilities, manufacturers, and operators – can implement. It also covers vehicle choice, procurement, and fleet planning options that will accelerate zero-emission school bus adoption. Highlights of the roadmap include:

  • Electric school buses currently on the market can be affordable and attainable for schools when available state and federal incentive programs are utilized, making the cost of owning and operating an electric school bus comparable to, or lower than, a diesel or gasoline bus.
  • Electric school buses can meet the bus route needs of most schools which have an average bus route of 80 miles per day.
  • Low cost Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) chargers provide sufficient power for electric school buses through overnight charging. Ninety-six percent of school buses, outside of New York City, return to depots for at least 12 hours overnight.

The roadmap will be updated every three years to reflect changing zero-emission school bus market conditions.

Additionally, The Electric School Bus Guidebook provides information and resources for school districts and bus operators to help them become more familiar with key terms and processes for transitioning to zero-emission school bus fleets. The first three guides focus on the benefits of zero-emission buses, the procurement process, and charging stations to inform discussions with school boards and the public. More guides will be added to the main guidebook throughout 2023 and will cover best practices for bus routing, safety, workforce development, and technician training. The guidebook will continue to be updated periodically as new information becomes available to receive these updates, sign up on NYSERDA’s Electric School Bus web page.

Both the roadmap and guidebook pinpoint critical factors and decisions that school districts and bus operators face when considering clean bus options. Zero-emission buses include both battery electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses which are expected to be available for purchase in New York State in the coming years. Both types of buses eliminate diesel and gasoline fumes that can drift into, and then linger within buses – negatively impacting air quality and child health.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Our roadmap and guidebook will provide school districts and bus operators with the latest information to enhance their fleets with zero-emission buses through proper planning, purchasing, and financing. Many schools have sustainability goals and want to invest in solutions like clean transportation, particularly in underserved areas– providing healthier neighborhoods for more children and families to live, work and go to school in.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Hochul's ongoing commitment to clean transportation is helping improve air quality and transform the way our students and families travel. Historic support from $500 million in the Environmental Bond Act as well as federal climate investments will further complement this roadmap to give schools the resources they need to advance and embrace the transition zero-emission buses and build a cleaner and greener future for the next generation."

New York State Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “Governor Hochul continues to play a leading role in the introduction of EVs to combat climate change, and this roadmap will be helping school districts navigate the road to a clean energy future and help our children breathe easier.”

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Zero-emission school buses not only improve the environment for our students by reducing air pollution, an issue that disproportionately effects our underserved communities, they also promote the importance of sustainability and clean energy, contributing to a healthier and more equitable future for the next generation. Working with our stakeholders, we are confident that this guide, compiled through collaboration with our partner agencies and the Governor, can be a helpful resource to mitigate some of the challenges associated with this worthwhile endeavor for our schools and districts across the state.”

New York Power Authority Acting President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Greening school bus fleets is imperative in New York State’s push to achieve its climate action goals, and these new guidance materials will answer many of the important questions that schools may have as they plan for making a shift to emissions-free transportation alternatives. At the Power Authority, we are preparing to assist public fleets, including school districts, in procuring and installing necessary electric bus and vehicle charging infrastructure. The electrification of student transportation is a key element to both achieving greenhouse gas reductions and improving respiratory health for sensitive populations.”

State Senator Kevin Parker said, "The announcement of the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap & the Electric School Bus Guidebook is a significant victory for New York State. This ground-breaking initiative addresses climate change head-on by replacing traditional school buses with zero-emission vehicles and putting the health and safety of our students first. It reaffirms New York's climate commitment by making the road to learning clean and green!"

State Senator Shelley Mayer said, “I applaud Governor Hochul’s announcement of the New York State Electric School Bus Road Map and The Electric School Bus Guidebook, which will provide New York schools, particularly those in high-need districts, with the technical and financial assistance they need to replace their current bus fleets with zero-emission vehicles. This summer, we have witnessed the devastating effects of climate change in our state, in our country and around the world. It is essential that we keep taking steps to reduce the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere, and at the same time, we need to make this transition as smooth as possible for our communities and school districts. By 2027, all new school buses sold in New York State must be zero-emission, and all school buses on the road must be zero-emission by 2035. The new guides will help school districts meet these important goals.”

State Senator Timothy Kennedy said, “Supporting P-12 school districts’ conversion to zero-emission buses will have a tremendous impact on the well being of our students across New York. This Roadmap and accompanying guidebook will assist New York’s high-need school districts transition to clean school bus fleets with the necessary technical support and resources.”

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, "School Districts across the state -- particularly in our rural areas -- have expressed concerns about how to address the cost, charging, travel range and capacity challenges of electrifying their school buses and meeting the 2035 zero emission goals. The Electric School Bus Guidebook and Electric School Bus Roadmap are welcome tools for school districts and bus operators to help them access funding and guidance through this important transition."

Bethlehem Central School District Director of Student Transportation and Fleet Services Karim H. Johnson said, “In development of the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap and Guidebook, NYSERDA engaged with Bethlehem CSD and other school districts who have experience deploying zero-emission buses to leverage our real-world experiences. This input and the resulting Roadmap and Guidebook documents will be valuable resources for districts and bus operators in evaluating and selecting zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.”

New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) Executive Director Dave Christopher said, “The New York Association for Pupil Transportation is pleased to have participated in the development of the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap and The Electric School Bus Guidebook that are now available to school districts. These resources will be instrumental in providing guidance to assist in transitioning bus fleets across the state from fossil fueled buses to zero emission.”

New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) Vice President Thomas Smith said, “We are appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Roadmap and Guidebook through the Electric School Bus stakeholder meetings. New York school bus contractors provide transportation services to a majority of the school districts in New York and look forward to the transition to all electric school buses.”

World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative Director said Sue Gander said, “When New York State passed its first-in-the-nation school bus electrification mandate last year, we were pleased to see a strong emphasis on technical assistance. Electric school buses involve a learning curve, but with the release of the Electric School Bus Roadmap and Guidebook for school districts and bus operators, NYSERDA is putting important tools in the hands of those leading the electric school bus charge across the state. We look forward to continuing to work with NYSERDA and others around the state to support an equitable transition to electric school buses, so that all students see the air quality, health and climate benefits of an electric ride to school.”

Transportation contributes to 30 percent of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, one of the largest sources of emissions in the state. New York has 45,000 school buses, which makes up approximately 10 percent of the nation’s total. New York State continues to make funding and resources available to help support the cost to transition to clean fleets. Funding for clean school buses is also available through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program and under the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

The Bond Act makes $500 million available under the Public School Bus Electrification Program to help school bus fleets start transitioning their buses and depots to accommodate zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure. For more information on the Bond Act, visit Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

New York State's $1 billion investment in electrifying its transportation sector is vital to advancing the State's sweeping climate and clean energy plan. Reducing carbon emissions and pollution from vehicles creates cleaner air and healthier communities, particularly in underserved areas. A range of initiatives grow access to electric vehicles and improve clean transportation for all New Yorkers including EV Make Ready, EVolve NY, the Drive Clean Rebate, Charge Ready 2.0, the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program and federal funding under the NEVI Program.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.