Senator Bill Weber Advocates for Immediate Reevaluation of Electric Bus Mandate Amidst Concerns from School Officials Locally and Statewide

Senator Bill Weber Advocates for Immediate Reevaluation of Electric Bus Mandate Amidst Concerns from School Officials Locally and Statewide

Senator Bill Weber signed on to Senator George Borello’s letter to Governor Hochul echoing the urgent appeals from school officials across New York State who are voicing their opposition to the electric bus mandate dictated by the state legislature and embraced by the governor. 

The concerns raised by these educators encompass the exorbitant costs associated with electric buses, the tight transition timeline and the logistical hurdles they argue have yet to receive adequate attention. Senator Weber heard these exact concerns from school officials in Rockland County he has met with throughout the past year. 

School budget officers foresee significant challenges in meeting capital costs, with the first mandate looming in 2027, a mere three years away. The transition to electric buses entails costs approximately triple that of conventional buses, reaching around $400,000 per vehicle, excluding essential infrastructure upgrades such as charging stations, electrical improvements, and bus garage renovations.

A November 4, 2022 report from The Empire Center entitled “Charging Forward: New York’s Costly Rush to Electrify School Buses” lays out the massive cost of this transition. The Empire Center sites a Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee report “that in New York State, 2.3 million children are transported by more than 50,000 school buses annually” and that infrastructure upgrade costs would be $10,000 to $30,000 per bus.

Using these numbers, the cost to replace 50,000 school buses statewide would be $20 billion dollars with infrastructure upgrade costs between $500 million on the low end and $1.5 billion on the high end. These infrastructure upgrade costs do not include the untold and unknown costs of upgrading the entire electrical grid required to handle the increased demand from charging these buses. 

To put these staggering numbers into perspective, the entire education budget for fiscal year 2024 was just over $44 billion dollars. This project alone is basically half of the education budget. 

“Every year our municipalities and school districts are forced to deal with unfunded mandates from Albany, but this one takes the cake,” said Senator Bill Weber.

The recently allocated $100 million in grants by New York State for electric school bus purchases is a mere fraction of the necessary funding. This amount is only sufficient to fund around 250 buses statewide, a stark disparity considering there are over 800 school districts across the state. The additional $400 million slated for future funding rounds must also be increased for this initiative to work.

The letter calls for the full funding of this mandate or eliminating the mandatory deadlines for this transition.

“The state budget must address the financial burden and logistical challenges imposed by this mandate. Without a commitment to full funding or the pragmatic step of eliminating mandatory deadlines, the costs will inevitably fall on the already-overburdened taxpayers of our school districts, which is simply unacceptable," said Senator Weber.

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