In a string of recent environmental-infrastructure announcements, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled Tuesday that school bus companies contracted with the city are going to purchase 51 new electric school buses with nearly $18.5 million in federal funds.
While announcing the allocation outside City Hall Monday morning, Adams said that beginning the city’s transition to electric school buses will help clean up the pollution spewed into the air by the current fleet that runs on fossil fuels.
“This is a big step forward towards the future,” Adams said. “By saying these yellow buses are now going to be, not only safe to transport our children internally, but the outside fumes are no longer going to be harmful to the 51 new clean buses this $18 million is going to allow us to put into our transportation system.”
The companies, J.P. Bus and Truck Repair and Nesco Bus and Truck Sale, were awarded the money through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program, said Walter Mugdan – deputy regional administrator for the EPA’s region two office. Mugdan said the funding for the program came from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that passed Congress last year.
Most older school buses around the country use “heavily polluting diesel fuel,” Mugdan said. That fuel pollutes the air, endangering the health of everyone riding the buses, including students and bus drivers. The fumes have been linked to conditions like asthma, he added, and their impact is particularly acute in communities of color.
“They breathe in the fumes as they board and they get off the bus and they walk past it on their way home,” Mugdan said. “This diesel air pollution harms their health. It’s linked to asthma and other health concerns that cause kids to miss school. And this is particularly common in communities of color.”
“Getting rid of these diesel school buses and these diesel engines will mean cleaner air for students, for bus drivers and for the school staff who work near the bus loading areas as well as the communities through which they drive every day,” he continued. “It also means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change.”
News of the electric school bus announcement comes on the heels of the city last week unveiling that going forward it will no longer build new schools powered by fossil fuels and it’s committing $4 billion to convert the heating systems of 100 schools from gas to electric. Additionally, Adams broke ground on a new series of flood walls in lower Manhattan last week as well.
Adams said his office has been putting a particular focus on the city’s efforts to combat climate change over the past week because it’s the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the five boroughs a decade ago.
“We’ve been talking a lot about this the last few days,” the mayor said. “We reflected on the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and we know the impact of it. And it’s clear we must make big changes to protect our environment, our children and our future. And New York City is taking action.”