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

The New York City Council passed a bill mandating that the city’s school bus fleet be fully electric by 1 September 2035. The bill passed with 44 votes in favor and one vote against. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law.

The replacement of school buses is subject to the commercial availability and reliability of all-electric school buses, and the technical and physical availability of related planned infrastructure, including but not limited to charging stations and bus depots for all-electric school buses.

This local law also requires the Department of Education (DOE) to report to the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council on a variety of implementation targets as of 1 July of 2023, 2028, and 2033.

According to the Fiscal Impact Statement prepared by the Finance Division of the City Council, there are approximately 10,700 school buses City-wide, of which the City manages approximately 960 in partnership with the NYC School Bus Umbrella Corporation (NYCSBUS). Of the 960 currently managed by the City, 885 would still be need to be converted from diesel to electric as the City had previously committed to converting 75 school buses.

The approximate cost to covert 885 City-owned diesel school buses to electric, as well as to procure electric charging stations and build-out electrical infrastructure is $367.3 million in capital costs through Fiscal 2035, or $28.3 million per fiscal year assuming that after several months of planning in Fiscal 2022 procurement starts in Fiscal 2023.

In addition to the City-owned school buses managed in partnership with NYCSBUS, the City relies upon approximately 9,740 diesel buses operated by private contractors that would also need to be replaced or converted from diesel to electric.

It is estimated that the cost to replace 9,740 diesel buses with battery-powered electric buses, as well as the cost to procure chargers and build-out electrical connections for the chargers, is $4.04 billion through Fiscal 2035, or $310.9 million per fiscal year assuming that after several months of planning in Fiscal 2022 procurement starts in Fiscal 2023.

While the City is not directly responsible for the costs incurred by private contractors it is reasonable to expect that allocation of these additional costs will be subject to future contract negotiations, the Finance Division noted.

While this estimate assumes a constant number of school buses through September 2035, demographic and policy shifts could reduce or increase the number of school buses, which in turn would result in reduced or increased expenses associated with electrifying the fleet.

The legislation was introduced to the Council as Intro. No. 455 on 14 February 2018.


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