City Council passes bill mandating all school buses be electric by 2035

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The New York City Council passed a bill earlier this month that would require all school buses to be electric by 2035 in order to improve the city’s air quality. 

The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions with gases released from cars, trucks, and buses accounting for 29% of the country’s total CO2 emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In New York City, vehicle emissions make up 30% of the city’s total carbon emissions with traffic-caused air pollution contributing the 320 premature deaths and 870 emergency visits each year, according to the Mayor’s office. 

The bill’s passage is part of a broader City effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the effects of climate change. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced his support for the measure in April, committing to rolling out a 100% electric school bus fleet by 2030. In addition, the mayor announced that through a partnership with the New York City School Bus Umbrella Corporation, the City would purchase 75 electric school buses over the next two years with the first of which arrived in the city this past June. 

“Today we are doubling down on reducing air pollution and carbon emissions from our vehicles,” said de Blasio. “The clean transportation future we need is being built right here, right now.”  

New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter also supported the move stating, ” our children deserve an environment that is cleaner, greener and brighter than how we left it, and this announcement brings us one step closer to that reality. New York City is pioneering this important work to combat climate change and reaffirming our commitment to healthier school communities across the five boroughs.”

Not only would the transition from a diesel school bus fleet to an electric fleet help the environment and improve New Yorkers’ health, but it would also save about $18 million in health care costs, the City estimates. 

“For our kids’ sake, it’s time to leave the internal combustion engine behind,” said Ben Furnas, Director, Office of Climate and Sustainability.“Electrifying our school buses will give our schoolchildren cleaner air to breathe while confronting the climate crisis and accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.” 

In order to accommodate an electric school bus fleet, the City pledged earlier this year to amend a local law that would require parking facilities to include electric vehicle charges for at least 20% of parking spaces and new parking lots would be required to have electric service capabilities at all parking spaces.