The program starts accepting applications for zero-emission bus and infrastructure funding in late November. - Image: Canva

The program starts accepting applications for zero-emission bus and infrastructure funding in late November.

Image: Canva

The state of New York is making the first $100 million in zero-emission school bus funding available through a bond act passed in 2022.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the application period is expected to open Nov. 29. School districts and bus operators in New York are expected to use the money to phase out fossil-fuel buses, curb emissions, and make cleaner school buses – such as electric buses – more affordable. New York has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050 and the governor has established an initiative to require all new school buses sold be zero-emission by 2027 and that all school buses on the road be zero-emission by 2035.

"The commitment of public funds and guidance released today puts New York State schools and bus operators on a trajectory to embrace clean transportation and the benefits that it will bring,” Hochul said. “Zero-emission buses will become a hallmark, not only transporting students through our communities, but also demonstrating the promise and possibility of a healthier, environmentally friendly, low-carbon future for our youngest citizens.”

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released the program rules, officially launching the pre-application process through which bus manufacturers and dealers can apply to qualify for the New York School Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP). These rules will guide the bond act allotment of $500 for clean school buses and infrastructure. A webinar is planned for Oct. 11 at 12 p.m. Eastern.

The NYSBIP is statewide point-of-sale incentive program that provides discounts to eligible school bus fleet operators that purchase zero-emission battery electric (BEV) or hydrogen fuel cell electric (FCEV) school buses and associated charging infrastructure. Incentives for school buses will be disbursed directly to dealers and manufacturers to offset some or all of the difference in purchase price between zero-emission school buses and comparable diesel or gas-powered buses. Charging infrastructure incentives will also be issued directly to the fleet owner (the school district or their contractor).

The bond act requires that disadvantaged communities receive no less than 35%, with a goal of 40% of total funds. Buses domiciled in or serving disadvantaged communities or high-need school districts will be considered for higher incentive amounts.

Said Doreen M. Harris, president and CEO of NYSERDA: “The Environmental Bond Act funding creates a pivotal opportunity that brings zero-emission school buses to the forefront of New York State’s clean energy and climate future. Incorporating community feedback received at this summer’s Environmental Bond Act meetings and through the draft criteria open comment period, is now culminating in the next step – working in partnership with school districts, bus operators and manufacturers to make meaningful changes to student transportation by putting more clean buses on our roadways.”

“Zero-emissions buses can have significant benefits for our schools and districts across the state, especially our urban districts, by reducing pollution and providing a cleaner transportation option for students,” said Betty A. Rosa, commissioner of New York’s state education department. “Additional resources—like those announced today—will be critical to ensuring school communities are able to make these investments. Under Gov. Hochul’s leadership and in collaboration with our partner agencies, we can continue to work towards delivering cleaner, healthier communities for New York’s nearly 2.5 million students.”

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