Friend Calls on State to Halt Electric Bus Plan

New York state's mandate to transition school buses to electric power has left many questions, and Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C-Big Flats) has voiced significant concerns over the feasibility and implications of this ambitious plan. With the current rollout for this project behind already, there are various problems. First, the aggressive implementation schedule has not been matched with school districts' preparedness or the construction of the required infrastructure for charging. Widespread adoption is additionally hindered by the state's insufficient financing and support, as school districts struggle to pay for upfront expenses and infrastructure improvements.

Friend is calling on the state to provide local school districts with the flexibility to choose the most suitable options for their transportation needs, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate. The current timeline has only caused stress and uncertainty in many school districts across the state. The financial strain is brought on by having to pay for the up-front expenses of building new infrastructure and buying electric buses in addition to possible budgetary restrictions and little state financing.

The safety of these buses raises a number of important issues, including the possibility of thermal runaway from lithium-ion batteries, which calls for the implementation of strong battery management systems and emergency response training for situations involving high-voltage systems.

“The proposed plan to implement these buses is impossibly ambitious with not nearly enough aid being given to schools that are required to front the costs of the buses as well as the infrastructure they require. The schools are also supposed to be reaching out to utility companies themselves, which is a responsibility the state should be taking as it is forcing schools to upgrade to these buses. Overall, the lack of coordination by the state has left these schools worrying about how they are going to meet this lofty goal,” said Friend.