Students attending 11 school districts in upstate New York will soon be riding on alternative-fuel school buses secured by $13.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment funds.
The grant distributed through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) covered the incremental costs of 44 new buses, of which 37 are Blue Bird Vision propane-powered buses. NYSERDA spokesman Adam Ruder said those funds came in at $4,000 to $13,000 each. Some of the vehicles were purchased recently, so the incremental prices were compared to a 2010-compliant diesel bus.
The propane-powered buses went to Ballston Spa CSD, Charlotte Valley CSD, Gilboa-Conesville CSD, Hoosic Valley CSD, Malone CSD, Trumansburg CSD, and Wayne CSD. The districts also received money for fueling stations.
Fairport CSD received approximately $200,000 to offset the purchase of two IC Bus CE Series PHEVs, and East Greenbush CSD received about $100,000 for one IC PHEV. Then there were other hybrid buses funded at $60,000 to $80,000 each. Rockland County BOCES received two Azure Dynamics hybrid systems on a Ford F-450 frame with a Collins NexBus body, and Palmyra CSD and Warwick CSD each received one Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 hybrid-electric bus, each.
Peter Lawrence, the transportation director at Fairport CSD, explained that these types of grants are important to help school districts begin working with manufacturers to learn how the systems work, what is required of the alternative fuels and what advancements can be made.
“Until the technology is out there [the OEMs] are not going to put money into it if there’s not a market,” he said.
The school districts applied for the funds by May 2009 and awards were announced later that year. NYSERDA received its contract at the beginning of 2010 with the money needing to be spent within two years. The buses were delivered to the school districts this spring.
The program also helped pay for natural gas and hybrid truck new vehicle purchases and infrastructure.