(TRENTON) – School buses travel about four billion miles each year, providing the safest transportation to and from school for more than 25 million American children every day. To ensure a cleaner, healthier, and more efficient school transportation system, Assembly Democrats Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex), Shama Haider (D-Bergen), and Britnee N. Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic) sponsor a measure to implement a three-year “Electric School Bus Program”. The measure was approved by the full Assembly on Thursday 46-31-1.
The “Electric School Bus Program”, implemented through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), would help us determine the operational reliability and cost-effectiveness of replacing diesel-powered school buses for the daily transportation of students.
Under the bill (A-1282), the NJDEP would be required to provide grants for the purchase of electric school buses, establish a new charging infrastructure, provide appropriate training for bus maintenance personnel and bus drivers, and manuals and wiring for troubleshooting issues with the infrastructure. The bill would allot up to $15 million for the first year and then $15 million for two subsequent years subject to the availability of funding to the program. Additionally, it would be required that at least half of the participants and funding go towards low-income, urban, or environmental justice communities.
Upon Assembly approval of the measure, Assembly members Stanley, Haider, and Timberlake issued the following joint statement:
“The diesel exhaust from buses has a negative impact on our overall health and is a major contributor to climate change. Under the Electric School Bus Program, New Jersey would spearhead a healthier, more efficient transportation system for students. This measure gives our state the ability to explore different approaches for electrifying our bus fleets and would give us a better understanding of how to formulate the most effective processes in the future.”