Norris Calls for Rollback on EV School Bus Mandate

Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport) joined his colleagues today to call for a rollback of the state’s mandate that school districts convert school bus fleets to zero-emission buses in July 1, 2027 until July 1, 2045.

At $300,000 to $400,000 per electric bus, the cost to replace buses (which cost around $125,000 to $150,000) will skyrocket. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, the cost for replacing existing fleets with all-electric school buses would cost between $8 billion and $15.25 billion more – and less than 10% may be available in combined aid from the state and federal governments to offset the burden on taxpayers.

“Between the exasperated financial difficulties of the pandemic and recession, coupled with the proposed cuts from the governor’s budget, this is no time to force our schools to make such an exorbitant expense,” said Norris, who is a sponsor of the bill to roll back the implementation (A.8447). “Though we all want to protect our environment, it is essential that taxpayers are able to absorb the costs at a sustainable rate. It’s clear this is not smart growth. It’s not sustainable and it should be reconsidered.”

Norris stated that the estimated costs from the Empire Center were the upfront purchase prices for the school buses alone – and not other associated costs that would be needed to operate and maintain all electric-fleets. For example, the school district would need to build a charging substation and set aside funds for parts and repairs that could further add up. Recent news reports highlighted the story of Asheville, North Carolina where five electric buses were purchased, yet because the city cannot afford to keep up with repairs and maintenance, further complicated by the fact that the manufacturer filed for bankruptcy, they are only currently able to operate two of buses.

As the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Transportation Committee as well as member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, overseeing the state’s budget process, Norris has a keen interest in in protecting taxpayers when it comes to smart, strategic transportation growth. He believes firmly this is an area where the state should invest when there are funds to invest. However, the state is already facing a budget deficit. Additionally, with many roads, bridges, sewers and culverts across Western New York and other upstate regions in dire need of repair, he said those are where the investments should be made first if monies could be found.

Norris pointed out that this all-electric school bus plan would put the burden on local taxpayers. He said, “Homeowners, particularly seniors living on fixed incomes, are already really pinched and making difficult choices. This is not the time to add more to anyone’s burden. Rolling back this plan is the smart thing to do.”