New York City Department of Education
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Coalition begins push to make New York City's school bus fleet all electric

Oct. 8, 2020
NYC Clean School Bus Coalition wants to eliminate diesel-powered vehicles by 2040.

A coalition of environmental groups and elected officials want New York City’s yellow school buses to go green.

The Queens Daily Eagle reports that the newly formed NYC Clean School Bus Coalition has unveiled a plan to electrify the privately owned, diesel-fueled school bus fleet by 2040. That would match the city’s commitment for overhauling its public buses.

The city relies on about 10,000 buses to shuttle students to and from schools. Many kids take public transportation or walk to class, but every student in kindergarten, first and second grade who lives farther than a half-mile from school is entitled to a school bus ride. Third- through sixth-graders who live more than a mile from their school also are eligible to ride a school bus.

Children who ride diesel-powered school buses have a higher risk of asthma, one of the leading causes of school absences, according to a report from the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

The effects are felt most heavily in low-income communities of color and for students with disabilities who spend more time on the bus on average than able-bodied students.

Diesel fuel contributes to the amount of fine particulate matter in the air, pollutants that can increase the chance of death from Covid-19 by at least 8% if inhaled regularly, according to a study from Harvard. The chance of death increased exponentially for individuals with long-term exposure.

New York City has committed to electrifying the city’s public fleet by 2040, but that legislation that does not extend to the private sector companies that provide bus transportation to the public school system.

“We do need more investment in electric school buses, but we can do this, we just need to take a step in the right direction,” says New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Director of Programs Angela Hotaling. “Maybe we can’t buy all electric right now, but we shouldn’t keep buying these diesel buses.”

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