Trenton – The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan and Linda Greenstein that would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop and implement a three-year electric school bus pilot program.
“On a typical school day in New Jersey, more than 800,000 students ride to school on one of the state’s 15,000 diesel school buses,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “As a state, we have goals to significantly lower our carbon emissions and become a greener place to live. Transitioning from the conventional diesel-fueled buses to those with zero-emissions will significantly decrease our state’s pollution levels.”
Under the bill, S-759, the DEP would select at least six school districts or bus contractors each year to participate in the program. At least half of the school districts or school bus contractors annually selected and half of the grant funding would be located in low-income, urban, or environmental justice communities.
The bill would make $15 million available to the DEP each year for three years to provide grants to the participating school districts to go towards the purchase or lease of electric school buses, the acquisition and installation of charging infrastructure, and training for bus maintenance personnel, bus drivers, and inspectors. The committee adopted amendments that would align with the Assembly’s version of the bill.
“On average, children who ride in a diesel-powered school bus are exposed to 4-12 times the level of toxic exhaust than riding in a car,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “School buses are known to emit greenhouse gases and carcinogens, both of which contribute to climate change and threaten exposed individuals with elevated lifetime risks of developing cancer, asthma, and heart disease. By implementing this program, we can offer students a healthier and more environmentally friendly way to get to and from school each day.”
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 8-4.