In January, Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) said she would propose legislation to shift to 100% electric school buses by 2035. She also said she would propose legislation to require that all new school bus purchases will be zero-emissions by 2027. That legislation is now about to become law.

April 8, 2022, update: Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) yesterday agreed a $220 billion state budget with legislators, and it includes a plan to make the state’s approximately 50,000 school buses 100% electric by 2035.

The Senate strengthened Hochul’s proposal by requiring the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to provide technical assistance to school districts as they navigate the transition to 100% electric buses. It also requires the state to identify barriers to the 100% by 2035 goal so that they may be resolved early. 

Justin Balik, senior manager, State Policy for Transportation Electrification at World Resources Institute, said:

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. 

New York State electric school bus plan

January 6, 2022: In a document the governor released called the State of the State Book, page 161, “Achieve 100% Electric School Buses by 2035,” states:

There are roughly 50,000 school buses on streets in New York State, polluting the communities they operate in with harmful emissions. It is estimated that fully electrifying school buses in New York City alone would be the equivalent of taking nearly 650,000 passenger vehicles off the road.

To improve air quality for New York State’s children while also working toward our Climate Act goals, Governor Hochul will propose legislation to require that, by 2027, all new school bus purchases will be zero-emissions, and by 2035, all school buses on the road will be zero-emissions.

Critically, this legislation will ensure that the State provides school aid toward installing electric bus infrastructure, including charging stations, and purchasing or leasing electric buses. Additionally, this legislation will enable school districts to contract for buses for longer than the current five-year limitation, which will expand the ability of school districts to meet this goal.

In response to Hochul’s call for all electric school buses by 2035, Electrification Coalition executive director Ben Prochazka issued the following statement by email:

The Electrification Coalition applauds Governor Hochul for this bold but achievable commitment to wean New York’s school buses off oil. This commitment establishes New York as a clear leader in the important work to give students a clean ride to school.

Electric school buses are here and ready to be deployed, and it’s exciting to see New York seize the moment. This is a meaningful step toward realizing the national security, public health and economic benefits that electric vehicles offer.

At the beginning of October, New York City passed a bill requiring all 9,500 of its school buses to be fully electric by September 1, 2035.

As Electrek reported in July, most Americans support the transition to electric school buses. And American Lung Association national president and CEO Harold Wimmer then said:

Close to 25 million kids ride to school every day on diesel-powered school buses that emit millions of tons of pollution per year… The toxic pollution in diesel exhaust can harm children’s brain development and respiratory health.


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Electrek’s Take

We look forward to seeing this legislature passed in New York State. Every single US state should be pursuing the goal of electrifying their school bus fleet.

What will happen to all the old diesel buses? Will they be scrapped, or will they be converted to electric? And which electric school bus manufacturer will supply the new buses? We’ll find out the answers and keep you updated.

Read more: New York’s vehicle-to-grid e-school bus pilot program is a success

Photo: Lion

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About the Author

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.