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July 05, 2021   |  


Are electric school buses right for your district?

The Bethlehem Central School District in Albany County has plans to convert its entire 132-bus fleet to all electric vehicles. The district took its first step toward that goal on May 18, when voters approved a proposition to purchase up to five electric buses for the 2021-22 school year.

For decades, school districts have relied almost exclusively on diesel buses to transport kids to school and home, and diesel remains the dominant technology of the approximately 45,600 buses in operation across the state. The reason, according to Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a non-profit organization that advocates for diesel technology, is that diesel buses are relatively inexpensive, safe and durable. Like many new and emerging technologies, electric buses have been slow to catch on in New York. Questions exist over their cost, maintenance and reliability.

According to David Christopher, the executive director of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, “Our members embrace electric buses in concept and understand that electric vehicles are on the horizon. The hesitancy in implementation is the cost. There are also concerns regarding infrastructure, battery life, bus fires, and range of operation.”

What follows is an analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of electric school buses compared with diesel school buses


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