Electric Ticket To Ride: NJ Legislators Ride Electric School Bus at NJ State House on Day Senate Pass $45 Million in Funding for Electric School Buses

Media Contacts
Doug O'Malley

State Director, Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center

Trenton – Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club NJ, Environment NJ, and the NJ Environmental Justice Alliance held an Electric School Bus event today for NJ legislators as the Senate passed the the electric school bus bill, S759 (Diegnan/Greenstein)/ A1282 (Stanley/Haider/Timberlake) with a vote of 23-15.

The NJ Senate Budget Committee passed S759 (Diegnan/Greenstein) on June 6, 2022 by an 8-4 vote.  S759 passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 3rd, 2022, by a 6-0-1 vote and similar legislation passed the Senate in December by a 35-3 vote. The NJ Assembly passed the legislation (A1282) by a 47-31-1 vote on May 26. 

The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to develop and implement a three-year “Electric School Bus Program.” The purpose of the program is to determine the operational reliability and cost effectiveness of replacing diesel-powered school buses with electric school buses for daily transportation of students. This bill provides for $15 million in the first year and $15 million annually in subsequent two years to NJDEP, a total of $45 million subject to availability, to provide grants to school districts. 

Environmental groups including NJ Sierra Club, Environment New Jersey, NJ Environmental Justice Alliance, and others support the bill and urge for swift passage by the full NJ State Senate so that it could be signed by Governor Murphy. 

“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). “School buses are known to emit greenhouse gasses and carcinogens, both of which contribute to climate change and threaten exposed individuals with elevated lifetime risks of developing cancer, asthma, and heart disease. 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.”

“Investing in electric school buses means investing in cleaner and healthier communities. This will be one of the first steps to ensure our transportation and infrastructure becomes more sustainable with positive impacts on our environment and health of our students,” said Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, sponsor of A1282.

“This generation of kids should be the last generation that gets a toxic daily dose of diesel fumes on the way to school every morning. More than 15 years ago, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot question to clean up dirty diesel school buses. Back then, we didn’t have any other option. Today, states around the country are leading the way to make the transition to electric school buses. Diesel emissions seep into the cabin of existing school buses and into the lungs of our children. It’s time to protect our kids’ health and our air quality by taking the first step to electrification. We thank Sen Diegnan’s leadership on this legislation and we urge its passage in the full Senate,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey.

“We thank the NJ legislature for prioritizing our kid’s health and our environment by supporting the electric school bus bill. Children are among the most vulnerable to health impacts from air pollution caused by diesel emissions, and as a mother, it gives me great relief to know that my son will be able to sit in a school bus with zero emissions. Not only will this transition from diesel to electric reduce air pollution and protect our kids’ health, it will also provide an economic benefit to school districts,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey Chapter Director of the Sierra Club. “Thank you to the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Stanley and Senator Dignan, for supporting this important piece of legislation and for leading the way to a cleaner and greener NJ.”

“As a parent in line behind the buses for school pickup, I heartily support investment in electric buses for schools. Did you know there are “No Idle” zones at schools due to air quality concerns for our kids? We can improve air quality by having electric school buses,” said Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Executive Director, Action Together New Jersey. 

“We are thrilled the electric school bus bill has been approved by the Legislature. This is the first step to having New Jersey’s children, especially those who live in already overburdened communities, breathe cleaner air,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “Our students and teachers have enough on their plates, and they don’t need to worry about pollution from dirty diesel buses. This bill gets us one step closer to transitioning to a statewide fleet of clean, reliable electric vehicles, and we urge Governor Murphy to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

“As a mother of two children who took a ride on dirty diesel buses every day of their 12 school-age years, I was thankful that their trip was a short one – not everyone is so lucky, especially in NJ’s rural areas,” said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director, Clean Water Action.”Electric school buses are not magic. They’re a great investment in our children’s health, climate mitigation, lowering bus maintenance costs, as well as the possibility of mobile battery power during outages. We are so happy the legislative sponsors of S759/A1282 have set a course towards going electric. A perfect end-of-school field trip would be sending this bill to the governor’s office for his signature.” 

“Electric school buses are a critical component of our transition to a cleaner and healthier state. By investing in electric buses, our children, school employees, and the public overall will be saved from the dangers of breathing in harmful diesel fumes, and we will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Debra Coyle, Executive Director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council. “This bill will jumpstart the electric school bus transition in our state, which in addition to the public health and climate benefits, will create good paying jobs, and we thank the sponsors and the senate overall for supporting the legislation.”

“Nothing is as important as the health of our children! That’s why getting them out of unhealthy diesel fuel buses and into clean electric ones is vital for their well being. These bills (S759/A1282) will send them on to brighter and healthier futures and should be passed immediately,” said Keith Voos, Subcommittee Chair, Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, NJ State Conference – NAACP

“All children deserve to breathe healthy air.  Passing S759/A1282 is step one to electrifying all school buses in New Jersey.  Not one child should be breathing diesel fumes anymore.  Thank you to the leadership that Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley brought to this bill. We are proud that you represent us in LD#18”. Tina Weishaus, Chair of Sustainable Highland Park.  

“It seems only appropriate that New Jersey starts funding this transition from fossil-fuel school buses to electric school buses for our students, as it is their future on our planet that we will be protecting. AFT national has been working throughout the country with different states to make this a reality, and AFTNJ certainly stands with all of the organizations that are advocating for this change. The time to act to save our planet is now.” — Donna M. Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ)

“Critically, this legislation will give New Jersey more operational experience with electric school buses which is needed.  Especially since  declining costs and federal incentives are paving the way to a large- scale conversation that will benefit children with cleaner air and taxpayers with lower fueling and maintenance costs!” said Pamela Frank, CEO of ChargEVC-NJ.