State requires schools to purchase electric buses after 2027

Like officials in other New York state school districts, Fayetteville-Manlius School District administrators are exploring the most cost effective way to meet the new state electric school bus mandate that was enacted in April. 

The new law requires that after 2027, school districts must purchase buses that run on electricity and by 2035, all diesel-fueled buses must be replaced with electric vehicles.

“This is a very complex matter that requires careful and thoughtful consideration and planning,” F-M Assistant Superintendent for Business Services William Furlong said. “We want to make the right economic choices on behalf of district taxpayers while continuing the educational programs that the F-M community expects for its students.” 

There are a number of expenses in addition to bus purchases that districts must consider when shifting to electric rather than diesel-powered buses, such as purchasing and installing enough charging stations for the district’s fleet and potentially reconfiguring bus routes so buses would have enough power for each route. The district plans to apply for grants related to such infrastructure costs as the estimated cost to charge 75 school buses. 

Engineers are currently working with the district to determine necessary infrastructure requirements to house a fully electric bus fleet. Prior to purchasing electric buses, the bus garage electrical service must be upgraded and charging stations need to be purchased and installed so that the buses can be used, Furlong said.

To be ready for the shift, district officials are analyzing other factors that would be impacted, including student educational and extracurricular activities. Electric buses are estimated to travel about 70 miles on one charge, which could affect daily trips to BOCES locations, sports trips and educational field trips, some of which exceed that distance, Furlong said.

In 2021-22, F-M buses were dispatched in 37 routes serving approximately 4,682 public and private school students. The buses traveled nearly 850,013 miles throughout the 42.73 square-mile district, plus 13 routes to stops outside the district. 

Electric buses will also be more expensive than a new diesel bus. The district estimates the cost of a 70-passenger electric bus to be about $420,000. With the funds voters approved in May for bus purchases, the district would only be able to purchase two electric buses instead of the six diesel buses necessary to continue the same level of service as last year. 

“While we recognize the benefits of shifting to electric-powered vehicles, we are also looking into how to overcome the challenges and costs associated with this change,” Furlong said.