CAPITAL REGION — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced additional support for efforts to convert the state’s mass transit and school bus fleets to electric operation.
Cuomo said the state has awarded $16.4 million in incentives from the state’s share of the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement to five upstate or regional mass transit agencies, including the Capital District Transportation Authority, which launched its first electric buses last year.
“Through these initiatives, bus operators will now have the support and resources they need to modernize their fleets, reduce emissions and ensure underserved communities have cleaner public transit options as we work to further reduce our carbon footprint,” Cuomo said in a press release.
The funding was already known to the transit agencies, and factored in as CDTA purchased and began operating its first four electric vehicles last January.
“Our four-bus pilot program is going very well,” CDTA spokeswoman Jaime Watson said. “We are approaching the one-year mark that the buses have been on the roads and that we have been collecting data on them. So far so good, and they are doing exactly what the manufacturer promised us.”
The organizations that received funding, in addition to CDTA, were the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority, Suffolk County Transportation and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System.
Cuomo described the funding as part of his effort to transition mass transit bus fleets toward zero-emissions fleets by 2035 — a goal he announced in his 2020 State of the State address a year ago.
Under this program, the state pays for the full additional cost of buying an electric bus over a diesel bus — about $350,000 per bus — on the condition that the buses are housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community.
Separately, Cuomo said the state Energy Research and Development Authority and New York Power Authority will be paying up to $1 million to hire a consultant to help the five transit agencies develop plans to convert to all-electric transit buses. That includes planning for bus purchases, the necessary charging stations, power grid upgrades and other needed infrastructure.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will require a full court press and electrifying public transportation is a key part of our offense,” said Gil C. Quinones, the power authority’s president and CEO.
Additionally, $2.5 million is being made available through the Volkswagen settlement to help school bus operators statewide convert to cleaner, less polluting buses.
The state Office of General Services recently issued a request for proposals that could in the future allow regional transit authorities to buy electric and hybrid buses under state contract, rather than soliciting purchase bids on their own. Responses to the request for proposals are due Jan. 21.
The funding is coming from the 2016 national settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on emissions tests over a number of years. The settlement included $127.7 million for New York state, to be used for efforts to reduce vehicle pollution.
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