City’s commitment to electric school bus fleet has Queens leaders charged up

The city will invest $30 million in electric buses over the next two years to reduce carbon emissions across the five boroughs. (Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office)

As part of his Earth Day green initiatives, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed a quality of life issue that has vexed Queens residents for generations.

New York City’s public school buses will be electric by 2035 with 75 electric school buses added to the fleet over the next two years.

The switch to electric buses was hailed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

“This common-sense investment to reduce our carbon footprint and dramatically cut emissions that pollute our air will make an indescribable impact in the long-term health of our families and our city as a whole,” Richards said. “I look forward to the day when every vehicle in this city runs on electric power, while the days of fossil fuel consumption become nothing but a distant memory.”

The transition from a diesel school bus fleet to an all-electric fleet will reduce 30 percent of carbon emissions from school buses and remove enough air pollution citywide to avoid two premature deaths each year, reduce asthma emergency room visits and respiratory and cardiac hospitalizations, saving nearly $18 million in health care costs, according to City Hall.

“By committing to a 100 percent electric school bus fleet, our city is taking an ambitious step toward a more sustainable future,” Councilman Peter Koo said. “Reducing our carbon footprint is an essential solution for big cities where exhaust, smog and pollution contribute to record health disparities and high asthma rates.”

One possible snag in phasing out all non-electric buses is the lack of electric charging stations for vehicles in the city. In order to remedy this, the mayor’s office will work with the City Council to pass a bill requiring all new parking lots and garages to equip all spaces with the ability to charge electric vehicles or at least have space for those stations.

“Moving the city’s school bus fleet to 100% by 2035 is a step in the right direction and will have an immediate positive impact on the environment,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “It’s so important that we protect the environment and set an example for the youth of how we care for the world around us.”

The electric bus fleet would protect the city’s youth from developing serious health problems, with the highest concentration of pollution occurring in low income neighborhoods. The program would be an important step in the city’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

“The communities most vulnerable to COVID-19 are the same that are most affected by air pollution – Black, Latino and immigrant communities, and older adults,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “How we address the climate crisis is how we advance racial justice. And while there’s much work to be done, transitioning to an all-electric fleet is an important step that will have a positive impact on our health, on the climate, and the economy.”