New York School Bus Incentive Program Makes Clean Buses and Charging Infrastructure More Affordable for Public Schools

November 28, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $100 million is now available for zero-emission school buses under the historic $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. The New York School Bus Incentive Program provides funding to make clean buses and the associated charging infrastructure more affordable for public school districts and bus operators that contract with them while reducing pollution, and improving air quality in communities across the state, particularly those that are underserved. 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 school buses in New York State be zero-emission by 2035.

“New York State is empowering school districts to embrace zero-emission school buses which will provide our leaders of tomorrow with healthy and clean transportation today,” Governor Hochul said. “Ensuring electric school buses are at the forefront of student transport is a critical health investment and demonstrates the benefits of clean energy while reducing harmful emissions to improve air quality and protect our precious environment.”

Administered by The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), NYSBIP provides incentives to eligible school bus fleet operators that purchase zero-emission battery electric vehicles (BEV) or hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). This funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis with incentive amounts starting at $114,000 and covering up to 100 percent of the incremental cost of a new or repowered zero-emission school bus, depending on the type of vehicle. Larger voucher amounts are available for priority districts Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. that include high-need school districts Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. and disadvantaged communities Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., as defined by the New York State Climate Justice Working Group. Additional incentives are also available for fleets removing internal combustion engine buses from operation, purchasing wheelchair accessible buses, or purchasing buses with vehicle to grid capability.

NYSERDA CEO and President Doreen M. Harris said, “Made possible through the historic Environmental Bond Act, this incentive program will help school districts accelerate the deployment of zero-emission school buses in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle weight classes throughout New York State. Bringing manufacturers, school districts, and bus operators together to reduce transportation emissions and create cleaner, healthier commutes to school for our students will pay dividends for decades to come.”

The program also provides rebates to eligible school bus fleet operators who purchase and install eligible charging infrastructure in association with newly purchased zero-emission school buses. School bus fleet owners (the school district or their contractor) are also eligible to receive $25,000 per bus for charging infrastructure, or $35,000 if they serve a priority district. Fleet owners that have completed electrification plans are eligible to receive $55,000 per bus for charging infrastructure, or $65,000 if they serve a priority district. Vehicle manufacturers and bus dealers can also continue to apply to offer their vehicles on a rolling basis.

Program eligibility and rules for charging infrastructure funding are available online through the NYSBIP Implementation Manual Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. NYSERDA will accept applications on a rolling basis until funding is exhausted under the current round and will accept applications under future rounds as it oversees the distribution of the Bond Act’s additional $400 million earmarked for zero-emission school buses and infrastructure. Schools and school bus contractors do not apply to the program directly. School bus dealers apply on their behalf after they have issued purchase orders for their electric buses. Incentives for school buses are disbursed directly to dealers and manufacturers to offset some or all of the difference in purchase price between zero-emission school buses and comparable diesel or gas-powered buses while charging infrastructure incentives are issued directly to the fleet owner. To share more information about the NYSBIP process and new charging incentives, NYSERDA will host a webinar on December 11, 2023 at 3pm ET (register here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.). For continued program updates, please join our mailing list here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “School districts across New York State are eligible for this first tranche of $100 million from the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act to help advance the state’s transition to cleaner school buses, benefiting communities with cleaner air and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Working closely with our partners at NYSERDA, DEC is advancing climate action by leveraging Environmental Bond Act funding opportunities to benefit communities statewide, particularly disadvantaged communities that have borne the brunt of environmental pollution for decades. Directed by Governor Hochul, Bond Act investments are building community resiliency and safeguarding the health of our natural resources.”

New York State Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “As a direct result of Governor Hochul’s commitment to creating a cleaner environment and the Environmental Bond Act, school districts will get much needed financial help to purchase zero-emission school buses. This program is a win-win for bus manufacturers and school districts as they pursue ways to reduce emissions.”

The Bond Act requires that disadvantaged communities receive no less than 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefit of total Bond Act funds. In line with this goal, NYSERDA will aim to ensure at least 40 percent of the New York School Bus Incentive Program benefits disadvantaged communities Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. Buses domiciled in priority districts are eligible for higher incentive amounts in support of new zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.

The NYSBIP eligibility guidelines were open for public comment through September 1, 2023, and published on September 28, 2023, following public engagement on Bond Act implementation which included a project idea survey and a statewide listening tour which served to identify needs for environmental funding across the state through a transparent and collaborative process. For more information, please visit Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

New York State provides many resources for school bus operators to transition their fleets to zero-emission buses, including the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap and the Electric School Bus Guidebook. Additionally, $5 million of the initial $100 million in Environmental Bond Act funding is set aside for technical assistance for New York State school bus fleets to develop fleet electrification plans. High-need districts can have up to 100 percent of the cost of these plans covered. These resources, particularly the Guidebook, detail the benefits of zero-emission buses which can inform discussions with school boards and the public, options for electric school buses, procurement, charging equipment and infrastructure.

State Senator Timothy Kennedy said, "Transitioning our transportation sector to zero emission aligns with New York's broader environmental goals and our commitment to building healthier, cleaner communities. We recognize that any change often comes with costs, and this $100 million investment is deliberately designed to make this transition more affordable and accessible to partners throughout our state."

State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “I am pleased that my colleagues in the legislature and I, along with Governor Kathy Hochul, were able to secure $100 million in state funding to help school districts across New York State reduce carbon emissions by transitioning to the use of zero-emission school buses. As New York endures increasingly devastating storms, we must take proactive and substantial steps to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. With this funding now available, New York is again at the forefront of combating climate change while not putting school districts and communities in financial hardship.”

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “It is vital that New York State provide the necessary guidance, resources, and funding to support school districts in their transition to zero-emission school buses without burdening school budgets or taxpayers. When we passed the Environmental Bond Act, we committed to providing substantial investments in our new, green economy, and I am pleased to see that this funding is now available through the New York School Bus Incentive Program.”

Assemblymember Michael R. Benedetto said, "Empowering our schools with $100 million for zero-emission buses is not just a step towards environmental sustainability but a stride for cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and equitable access to green initiatives. The New York School Bus Incentive Program, backed by the Environmental Bond Act, exemplifies the commitment to a greener, healthier future for all communities, especially those in need. Let's drive change, one emission-free school bus at a time."

Assemblymember William Magnarelli said, “Today’s Governor’s announcement of $100 million being available for zero-emission school busses brings home the fact that the transition to non-fossil fuel transportation is here. It also shows that the anxiety of many as to how it will be paid for, will be decreased by the input of monies from the State. I applaud the Governor’s announcement and look for to more in the future to bring about a smooth transition to clean transportation.”

President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “Electric school buses will cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet and reduce air pollution that is poisoning our children’s lungs and resulting in sky-high school absenteeism, especially in disadvantaged communities. The mandate to make all school buses electric by 2035 was a major environmental and public health victory and with state funds now beginning to flow it's time for the rubber to meet the road. We strongly urge all school districts to apply for the Bond Act-funded School Bus Incentive Program and begin the process of transitioning their fleets to electric for the sake of the planet and our children.”

New York Association for Pupil Transportation Executive Director David Christopher said, “The New York Association for Pupil Transportation thanks Governor Hochul and NYSERDA for opening Environmental Bond Act funding for school districts to purchase zero emission school buses through the School Bus Incentive Program. This funding will assist school districts to begin transitioning their bus fleets from fossil fueled buses to zero emission school buses to meet Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals and will provide students with clean and safe school buses to ride to and from school daily.”

Today’s announcement complements Governor Hochul’s ongoing investments in clean transportation. New York is investing more than $1 billion in zero emissions vehicles over the next five years and adopting clean car and clean truck regulations that require 100 percent zero-emission passenger car and light-duty truck sales by 2035. Active light-duty vehicle initiatives include zero-emission vehicle purchase rebates through NYSERDA’s Drive Clean Rebate Program, zero-emission vehicle and charging infrastructure grants through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Municipal Grant Program Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., as well as the "EV Make Ready" initiative, New York Power Authority's EVolve NY Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. charging infrastructure program, NYSERDA’s Charge Ready 2.0 for Level 2 charging infrastructure, and the New York State Department of Transportation’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) charging infrastructure program to help expand electric vehicle use. Active medium- and heavy-duty truck initiatives include zero-emission truck purchase vouchers through the New York Truck Voucher Program (NYTVIP) and the New York City Clean Trucks Program, the "EV Make Ready" initiative to help expand electric vehicle use, fleet assessment services, and the $24 million Electric Truck and Bus Prize Challenge under the $85 million New York Clean Transportation Prizes Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

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 $55 billion in 145 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.