Momentum Builds for Electric School Buses

Momentum is building in our campaign to encourage the use of zero-emissions school buses. A new $1.25 million pilot program spearheaded by New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal will put electric school buses on the road in NYC, so kids will breathe cleaner air. The NYC Department of Education will start with a few buses across the city to test the technology with the hopes of scaling up.

In addition, the City Council Environmental Protection Committee recently held a hearing on Council Member Danny Dromm’s bill, Intro. 455, to speed up the transition to cleaner school buses. It would require that all new school buses on the road after 2040 be all-electric zero emissions buses. Our New York City Program Director Adriana Espinoza testified in support of this legislation. Read the testimony here. We also provided recommendations to strengthen the bill.

Most school buses in New York currently run on diesel fuel. In addition to contributing to climate change, diesel pollution has serious public health impacts. Due to their developing lungs, children are especially vulnerable to the harmful particulate matter contained in diesel pollution. In some NYC neighborhoods, more than 25% of kids suffer from asthma.

We estimate that there would be a reduction of roughly 18 million pounds of nitrogen oxides, 74,000 pounds of particulate matter and 2.9 million short tons of greenhouse gases over 16 years (the average lifetime of a school bus) if we replaced NYC’s diesel school buses with all-electric models. That would be the equivalent of removing 620,985 passenger vehicles from the road.

NYLCV member advocacy was vital to this momentum. Members rallied this summer, attended our forum on the benefits of electric school buses, and nearly 6,000 people signed our petition that called for investing in electric school buses in environmental justice neighborhoods across the state.

We will continue to advocate for making this program even bigger in future years so that even more children can benefit.