New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a series of initiatives to increase the number of electric buses in New York. Specifically, this effort includes $16.4 million in incentives for the expansion of electric bus usage amongst public transportation authorities, as well as $2.5 million for school bus operators to acquire cleaner forms of transportation with lower emissions.
Under the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYTVIP) program, $16.4 million of Volkswagen settlement funding is being made available to five of the largest public transit operators in the state—the Capital District Transportation Authority, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority, Suffolk County Transportation and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System—to facilitate their fleets’ transition towards 100 percent zero-emissions fleets by 2035.
Under this program, purchasers of new all-electric transit buses are eligible to have 100% of the incremental vehicle cost covered on the condition that these buses are housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community. This funding builds on the NYTVIP program expansion announced earlier this year. Combined, these transit operators currently run more than 1,300 transit buses.
To provide further support, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have reached an agreement which includes more than $1 million in funding for a new program to help the five large upstate and suburban transit operators develop plans to convert to all-electric transit buses.
Through this program, NYSERDA and NYPA will work with a competitively selected, pre-qualified contractor to study how to transition to electric bus fleets and install the needed charging stations in a cost-effective way. Areas of study include transit operated facilities and parking lots that could become large scale charging hubs, utility upgrades, route-based charging, the need for high-speed charging to extend bus range, resiliency planning, and the need for backup power solutions.
Additionally, another $2.5 million is also now available through the NYTVIP to school bus operators statewide to support the purchase of cleaner, less polluting buses. Funding will help cover up to 100% of incremental costs for all-electric school buses operating near a disadvantaged community. The program reduces the cost to purchase new, clean electric or alternative-fueled buses through point of sale rebates offered through a qualified vendor.
The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) also issued a Request for Information (RFI) on 23 December seeking details from manufacturers and dealers about electric and hybrid transit buses currently available in the marketplace.
Responses to the RFI, which are due by 21 January 2021, will be used to develop a solicitation for electric and hybrid buses with the goal of providing transit authorities with options for purchasing green vehicles for their fleets. Transit authorities from across the state helped OGS finalize the RFI before it was issued, and they will also be involved in the evaluation of responses received to ensure the resulting procurement for clean transit bus purchases meets their needs.
NYTVIP also offers funding for businesses and municipalities that want to purchase new, clean electric vehicles or repower commercial trucks. NYTVIP is administered by NYSERDA in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The $63.4 million for the program comprises $53.4 million from the state’s $127.7 million federal allocation from the Volkswagen settlement, which is directed by the multi-agency Clean Transportation NY plan and approximately $10 million in federal air quality improvement funds allocated to the New York State Department of Transportation. In addition to supporting the NYTVIP program, NYSDOT has provided an additional $7 million in direct assistance to facilitate the electrification of upstate transit fleets.
The announcement of new funding for initiatives builds upon additional state clean transportation advancements made this year, including the recent rebate increase to $4,500 per charging port installed in a disadvantaged community under the Charge Ready NY program. The program supports public or private employers, building owners, municipalities and non-profit organizations to install Level 2 charging stations in public parking lots, workplaces and apartment buildings or condominiums.
Additional clean transportation announcements made this year include the $701-million Make Ready order which earmarks $206 million toward equitable access and benefits for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities; and the $11 million in Volkswagen Settlement money under the Direct Current Fast Charger program designated to build out the state’s network of fast electric vehicle charging stations in Regional Economic Development Council areas upstate, where access to charging stations is limited and where availability of charging infrastructure in disadvantaged communities can be improved.
Growth of electric buses in the state. To date, NYTVIP has assisted the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority with procuring five of its ten electric transit buses while the Capital District Transportation Authority has acquired three of its four electric buses under the program.
Other transit operators, including Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have also purchased electric buses through the program. Other transit agencies, including Niagara-Frontier Transportation Authority, Suffolk County Transportation, and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System, are in the process of buying electric transit buses.