‘Sticker shock:’ Schools worry about expense of State’s mandated transition to electric bus

ONONDAGA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The superintendent of the Onondaga Central School District says he got “sticker shock” when learning what it would cost his district to buy four electric school buses this year instead of the non-electric models.

Every year, the district replaces three or four buses in its fleet, totaling about $500,000.

“If we had to purchase four new buses this year that were electric, it’s going to be about a million dollars more,” said Superintendent Rob Price.

Starting in 2027, he won’t have a choice. An already-enacted state law requires districts to only buy zero-emission models in three years and then have the entire fleet replaced by 2035.

Price said: “I haven’t had any political or constituent pressure. Most of the constituents understand the fact that we do have some type of climate change going on, but they’re also looking at the economic cost.”

Switching the fleet requires upgraded power lines and charging stations, which will be included in this spring’s budget to fund 2025 renovations.

It’s not just the budget that worries Price, it’s the batteries.

Some routes make Onondaga Central bus drivers traverse 150 miles per day, more than what Price expects will come from a single charge.

Price isn’t alone in his concern. Some superintendents joined the Republican minority of the State Legislature Monday at the Capitol.

Leader Will Barclay said: “We have been sounding the alarms on the costly and unrealistic mandates associated with the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act) from the moment they were implemented. Forcing school districts to replace diesel with electric school buses will amount to billions of taxpayer dollars and that’s even if you consider this plan plausible. We’ve heard from numerous transportation officials, energy stakeholders and school officials about the impossibility of meeting this mandate. Common sense says to pump the brakes and that’s what New York needs to do.”

Corning-area Assemblyman Phil Palmesano is proposing a legislature that slows down the state’s mandate.

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