$24M VW settlement to pay for electric buses

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced this week that more than $24 million is now available to replace diesel-powered transit buses with new all-electric transit buses.

The agencies say, in a press release, that this will help improve air quality, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and promote investment in cleaner fuel technologies, among other benefits.

The Capital District Transportation Authority is among the 18 New York State government entities potentially eligible under the program. 

As part of the state’s $127.7 million allocation of the federal Volkswagen Settlement, NYSERDA will administer approximately $18.4 million to fund the new electric transit buses through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, and the New York Power Authority will manage $6 million for associated charging infrastructure.

Funding is available to replace existing diesel-powered transit buses with model year 2009 and older engines, which must be permanently removed from service and scrapped.

Transit bus replacements are targeted at New York State government entity-owned bus fleets that have bus depots located within Potential Environmental Justice Areas, or operate routes that serve these areas. The DEC considers Potential Environmental Justice Areas to be communities of color or low-income communities that experience a disproportionate share of environmental harms such as vehicle emissions and pollution.

The transit bus replacement funds will be administered through NYSERDA’s New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, which provides point-of-sale rebates to reduce the cost for businesses and municipalities that want to purchase new, clean electric or alternative-fueled vehicles like commercial trucks and buses.

The rebate will initially reduce the incremental cost of purchasing all-electric transit buses by up to 100 percent and help increase the number of all-electric transit buses on New York’s roadways while removing older diesel-powered vehicles through a scrappage requirement. These new all-electric transit buses will be required to be housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within Environmental Justice communities.

The state’s strategically leveraged investment of settlement funds from Volkswagen is anticipated to result in at least $300 million of clean vehicles and infrastructure on New York’s roadways, the release says, stating that the transportation sector is currently the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, representing approximately 34 percent of the state’s total emissions.

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