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Republican lawmakers call for electric bus mandate to be delayed until 2045

In Albany a coalition of lawmakers including State Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Senator George Borrello, and representatives from local school districts urged Governor Kathy Hochul and the state’s Democrat-led legislature to reconsider the electric school bus mandate set for 2027. Citing issues like cold weather failures, high costs, and poor reliability, they argue that the mandate imposes undue burdens on schools and taxpayers.

The mandate, established in 2022, demands that all new school buses be electric by 2027 and the entire fleet by 2035, without addressing geographical and operational challenges. In response, O’Mara and Palmesano proposed legislation (S8220/A8447) to delay the mandate until 2045, requiring further analyses on costs, benefits, and safety. Borrello introduced a bill (S8467) aiming to replace the mandate with a state-funded pilot program for testing electric buses in various settings.

Critics, including Horseheads School District Superintendent Dr. Thomas J. Douglas, highlight the financial and logistical impracticalities, from insufficient electric infrastructure to the inadequacy of electric buses for long-distance school activities. They emphasize the need for a reassessment based on practicality, affordability, and safety, to prevent overburdening local taxpayers and compromising student transportation.

In a recent episode of Inside the FLX, Auburn Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said electric buses wouldn’t be feasible on the state’s prescribed timeline.