On the same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its year-two rebate under the Clean School Bus Program, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said an additional $100 million is available to purchase zero-emissions school buses in the Empire State.
All new school buses purchased statewide as of Jan. 1, 2027, must be zero emissions. All school district and contractor fleets must also be 100 percent zero emissions by 2035. The New York School Bus Incentive Program defines zero emissions as electric or hydrogen fuel cell school buses, though only the former are currently available. The money announced on Sept. 28 is the first of $500 million available for zero-emissions school buses included under a $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act passed by voters last fall.
“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,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement. “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 published rules for the point-of-sale incentive program. Applications will be accepted on a “first-come, first-served basis” starting on Nov. 29. The base voucher amounts cover 60 percent of the incremental cost of the new school bus. Dollar amounts are $156,000 for Type D bus, $147,000 for a Type C and $114,000 for a Type A.
The voucher also covers 75 percent of the cost of a repowered Type C or Type A bus at $135,000 and $105,000, respectively.
Priority districts, those designated by the New York State Education Department as “High Need/Resource Capacity” and that serve disadvantaged communities can apply for 10 vehicle vouchers or up to 10 percent of their fleet. They also receive bonuses ranging from $21,000 to $39,000. Additional bonuses are available for vehicle scrappage, vehicle-to-grid compatibility and wheelchair lifts.
“The total cost of ownership of ESBs is expected to reach parity with that of ICE buses around 2027 and ownership of ESBs is expected to become more favorable beyond 2027,” reads the implementation manual. “Since the upfront purchase price of the bus is the main driver of total cost of ownership, NYSBIP anticipates lowering incentive amounts as the market purchase prices for new ESB’s decreases. NYSERDA will monitor costs on an annual basis while NYSBIP is active and adjust incentive amounts accordingly. While no declining amounts are currently scheduled, it is important for fleets to understand that incentive amounts may decrease.”
In the meantime, vehicle manufacturers and modifiers must apply to have their vehicles listed for voucher eligibility. Early next month, school bus dealers can apply to become an approved dealer and choose the eligible vehicles they will offer.
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