In case you missed it: Electric School Bus Town Hall recap

Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District hosted an Electric School Bus Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 18 to provide district stakeholders with the most up-to-date information on the purchase of electric school buses.

Meeting recap

New York State law requires school districts to purchase at least one electric bus in 2027 and have the entire fleet be electric (zero-emission) by year 2035. F-M currently has a fleet of 65 diesel school buses, and has 52 primary bus routes. Buses can travel up to six runs in one day.

Breaking down the challenges

Many questions remain surrounding the purchase of electric buses, including the distance electric buses can travel, budgeting concerns, and the space needed for and cost impact of charging spaces. Research is still being done on how electric buses perform in cold climates as well, as charging capacity is severely limited when temperatures dip below 32 degrees. 

Capital improvement questions include whether or not the district’s existing parking lot size will be large enough to handle an expanded fleet, including the electric panels and substations that are needed to power the buses. Drivers and mechanics may also need to be trained, and additional staff hired if additional daily runs are needed due to mileage capability on a single charge.

F-M does not currently qualify for need-based funding, and the district does not fall on the “priority list” for funding opportunities from New York School Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP).

School bus price information

Diesel bus vehicle quotes

  • Quote for a 71-passenger diesel bus: $192,000
  • Quote for a 30-passenger diesel bus: $105,000
  • Entire diesel fleet cost replacement estimate: $12.2 million

Electric bus vehicle quotes

  • Quote for a 71-passenger electric bus: $488,000
  • Quote for a 30-passenger electric bus: $337,000
  • Entire electric fleet cost replacement estimate: $31 million
  • Estimated cost for battery chargers, per fleet analysis: $2 million

F-M Fleet Analysis takeaways

  • The analysis determined that 63% of the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District routes are feasible for electric vehicles (32 of the 51 main routes that can be electrified)
  • The electrical infrastructure required to power all the charging stations at the main site requires power that far exceeds the power currently available at the site
  • The analysis of parking and installation constraints at the main site points to the fact that the parking lot is large and may require power to be spread over different transformers rather than one

The district continues to conduct research, while understanding there is a lack of comparative data available because only a small number of districts are currently operating with electric buses. F-M will use the fleet analysis study, performed by Polara, to help determine electric bus needs, facility upgrade options, and cost estimate, and plans to gather further information on funding and grant options to minimize purchase costs and taxpayer impact.

The school bus purchase plan will be incorporated into the 2023-24 school district budget. If you were unable to attend, you can find the full presentation from the Oct. 18th meeting here.