Education Expert Says Electric School Buses by 2035 Unattainable
Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium and RG Timbs Inc., made it pretty clear on Friday morning - it seems unlikely that New York's schools will be able to adopt an all-electric fleet of school buses.
Timbs says despite making it clear that New York is requiring zero-emission buses by 2027, with the entire fleet all-electric by 2035 - he has not seen one state official or expert explain how we plan to pay for it.
Furthermore, Timbs says the infrastructure to support 50,000 electric school buses just doesn't exist at this point, and that doesn't include trained mechanics to maintain and repair the new buses, a proper bus garage to house the operation, etc., etc., etc..
In an article at CNYSBA.org, Timbs, an education finance expert in New York, had dozens of questions that school districts need the answers to. Here's a sample...
1. Will building aid be available to turn the current Transportation Facility into a Zero-Emission bus facility?
2. With approximately 50,000 buses to replace beginning in at least five years, in about a seven-year period, what is the anticipated rate within which vendors can produce and deliver Zero-Emission buses?
3. Will there be any state aid or grants available for the training of staff for the repair and maintenance of the Zero-Emission buses?
4. Are there any special safety considerations needed for Zero-Emission buses (storage, fire safety, including interface with local fire departments).
5. Will there be changes to the fire code and fire and safety reports to the state Education Department because of the acquisition of Zero-Emission buses?
6. What grants will be available to school districts, what is the value and how long will they last?
7. Is there assurance by energy companies across the state that the “Grid” will be able to charge all the Zero-Emission buses on demand?
8. Will there be any acceptance of late-filed transportation contracts and waiver of penalties due to administrative oversight?
9. Will there be funding for the School Bus Driver Instructor’s program for the State Education Department?
10. Will there be a temporary suspension of the retiree earnings cap to help address school staff shortages to include school bus drivers?
11. Is there sufficient state funding for infrastructure and bus purchase considering projected state budget deficits?
12. Is school bus funding separated from public transit funding in the upcoming Environmental Bond Act?
13. Is there any assurance that aid and grants provide to transition to Zero-Emission buses will not
jeopardize Foundation Aid or other Expense driven aids in the future?
14. Is deference granted to smaller or less wealthy school districts or school districts in general compete with large vendors for these vehicles and the ability to create infrastructure to support them?
15. What will be the amount of state investment is needed in the statewide “grid” infrastructure and how long will it take? Will statewide infrastructure upgrades occur simultaneously, considering the transition to Zero-Emission buses is required to occur in 2035?
16. Notwithstanding the investment needed in statewide “grid” infrastructure, the transition to Zero- Emission buses is purported to include state support in the form of grants, Building Aid and Transportation Aid. Has there been a study on the actual state contribution to the initiative and does the state have sufficient resources to produce that support beginning now through at least 2035 and beyond as financing for these buses could continue for over a decade?
17. Will there be the formation of a statewide task force to include New York’s school transportation industry stakeholders to guide transition to electrification?
18. Will there be support of the school bus dealership model to provide service and technical support to bus operators as innovative technology transitions into bus fleets?
19. Will the state allow for diversified near-zero emissions fleet where a Zero-Emission electric bus is not practical due to safety, environmental and economic factors?
20. What will be the conditions by which a waiver for school districts to delay transition to electric buses granted?
Listen to the complete interview with Timbs below.
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