BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Vermont Energy Investment Corp. (VEIC) have announced the launch of a two-year electric school and transit bus pilot program backed by Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds.
The pilot program will evaluate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of electric school and transit bus operations in the state, while also meeting specific criteria and priorities, according to a news release from VEIC. These include:
- Testing and evaluating the viability of electric buses in Vermont as replacements for diesel-powered buses, across a range of route conditions, geographical areas, and types of weather.
- Maximizing air quality benefits by considering the age and miles traveled for the buses that are replaced, as well as areas that are disproportionately impacted by air contaminants in the state.
- Exposing as many residents from different communities, demographic profiles, and geographic regions as possible to electric bus technologies.
“We are excited to be putting the Volkswagen settlement funds to use for Vermonters,” said Emily Boedecker, commissioner for the DEC. “We aim to create positive change in communities across Vermont by improving air quality, reducing harmful emissions, and making electric bus technology accessible to more people.”
The new pilot program will roll out in three phases, beginning with the selection of at least two schools and one transit agency to participate in the deployment of electric buses in their communities. The buses and equipment will be tracked and evaluated for one year, following a planning process to establish routes, choose vehicle models, and acquire the necessary charging infrastructure. Throughout this year of operation, VEIC will provide technical assistance to the participating schools and transit providers, while also evaluating and reporting on the performance of the vehicles.
To ensure school districts are aware of the program and have support to apply, VEIC is partnering with the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) to leverage its nearly 40-year experience engaging with the state's school systems.
“We are thrilled to be working with the state and partnering with VEEP to implement this electric bus pilot program in Vermont,” said Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, director of transportation efficiency at VEIC. “Dedicating Volkswagen settlement funds to advancing electric vehicle use, particularly for public transit and school transportation, is the best option for our communities and our environment. We commend Vermont for making this choice and taking steps to deploy these vehicles in a smart and effective way.”
VEIC was selected by DEC to administer the pilot program. The company has designed, implemented, and evaluated multiple electric school and transit bus programs in New England, and specializes in electric vehicle deployment across cold-weather, rural areas.
As SBF previously reported in May 2016, VEIC was in the process of conducting a feasibility assessment for operating electric school buses in Vermont, examining the budgets and capital planning of four self-selected school districts and the cost of the buses.
For more information on the state's new electric bus pilot program, go here.