New York state will offer a series of initiatives to increase the number of electric buses statewide as part of its efforts to mitigate climate change and boost access to clean transportation in underserved communities. The effort includes more than $16 million in incentives for the expansion of electric bus usage among public transportation authorities and $2.5 million for school bus operators to purchase cleaner forms of transportation.
“Electrifying transit and school buses at scale is an important step in our fight against climate change and is essential in helping us reach our ambitious goals to create a greener New York state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement last week. “Through these initiatives, bus operators will now have the support and resources they need to modernize their fleets, reduce emissions and ensure underserved communities have cleaner public transit options as we work to further reduce our carbon footprint.”
Under the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, $16.4 million in Volkswagen settlement funding will be made available to five of the largest public transit operators in the state, including the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, to facilitate their fleets’ transition towards 100 percent zero-emission fleets by 2035, a goal Cuomo announced in his 2020 State of the State Address.
Through the program, purchasers of new, zero-emissions all-electric transit buses are eligible to have 100 percent of the incremental vehicle cost covered on the condition that the buses are housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community.
The funding builds on the NYTVIP expansion announced early last year. Combined, the five transit operators run more than 1,300 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 that includes more than $1 million in funding for a new program to help the five upstate and suburban transit operators develop plans to convert to all-electric transit buses.
“By working with regional transit and school bus fleet operators we are removing dirty, polluting vehicles from our roadways and helping communities eliminate the health and environmental risks from carbon emissions,” said Doreen Harris, acting president and CEO of NYSERDA and Climate Action Council co-chair. “Investing in all-electric buses and offering transit authorities technical assistance shows the serious commitment that we are making under Gov. Cuomo’s plan to provide access to clean transportation options for all New Yorkers.”
Another $2.5 million also is 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 percent 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.
On Dec. 23, the state Office of General Services issued a Request for Information 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 Jan. 21, 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.
“One of the most impactful strategies to help bridge New York’s nation-leading greenhouse gas emissions goals is through strategic investments in high-quality, high-frequency public transportation services,” said state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. “Electrification of public transportation fleets will build upon the more than 17 million metric tons annually of greenhouse gas emissions that these systems help to avoid.”