LATHAM, N.Y. — A group of New York bus dealers is calling for a broader application of the state’s Volkswagen (VW) mitigation funds in replacing older school buses.
The New York State Bus Distributors Association (NYSBDA) issued a recommendation that the state use some of its VW settlement funding for a school bus replacement program that allows “all current viable engine and fuel technologies that meet or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2010 emission standards.” Those would include clean diesel, propane, natural gas (CNG and LNG), and electric school buses.
New York hasn’t yet released its VW beneficiary mitigation plan, but the state has indicated that it will include the replacement of old, high-emitting school buses, among other vehicles. State officials have said that, in all categories, they will prioritize replacement of diesel vehicles with electric vehicles.
In all, the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust will provide states with a total of nearly $3 billion for projects to cut nitrogen oxide from large vehicles. New York’s share of the funding is $127.7 million.
“Our association wholeheartedly supports Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s ongoing efforts to reduce harmful emissions and improve the air quality for all New Yorkers,” NYSBDA President Paul Daniels said. “We are recommending New York state use the Volkswagen settlement funds to establish a school bus replacement program that includes the use of all viable clean-engine and power technologies, including clean diesel, propane, CNG, LNG, and electric.”
Another state group, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT), conveyed a similar message after Cuomo addressed the VW funding in his State of the State policy book at the beginning of the year. NYAPT said in a statement in January that it would work with state agencies “to allow flexibility for districts and operators to employ clean technologies that meet their needs.”
Meanwhile, in a letter sent to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the NYSBDA also recommended that the state embrace a school bus replacement program that mirrors the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program.
“Today’s modern combustion engines and alternative fuels produce near-zero emissions and are extremely efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Daniels, the NYSBDA president. “Given that all school buses made after 2010 must meet, or exceed, the EPA’s strictest emissions standards, it makes sense to include them as part of New York’s diesel emissions reduction program.”
Here are additional recommendations and information from the NYSBDA:
• The association recommends that the replacement program include all active school buses with engine model years prior to 2007.
• NYSBDA believes that the program should be statewide and not limited to certain areas.
• The association believes that $20 million of New York’s VW settlement allocation should be committed to a DERA-like school bus replacement program over a maximum of three years.
• NYSBDA estimates that by including clean diesel, propane, CNG, LNG, and electric, the emissions reduction program will remove about 1,000 older school buses from New York’s roads.
• The association recommends using the DERA reimbursement amounts — ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 per school bus.
• NYSBDA supports the position that school districts and contractors be equally eligible to participate in a school bus replacement program.
• NYSBDA recognizes that the VW settlement terms do not allow for the use of gasoline engines for emissions reduction programs.