Three of the state's school districts and one transit agency were selected for an electric bus pilot program backed by Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds. File photo

Three of the state's school districts and one transit agency were selected for an electric bus pilot program backed by Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds. File photo

BARRE, Vt. — Vermont has selected three school districts and one transit agency for its electric bus pilot program backed by Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds.

Officials from the Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Energy Investment Corp. (VEIC) announced the recipients of the new electric-powered buses on Dec. 19, according to a news release from VEIC, a nonprofit sustainable energy company. The recipients included Barre Unified Union School District, Champlain Valley School District, Franklin West Supervisory Union, and Marble Valley Regional Transit District.

“Congratulations to our project partners; we are excited to work with them to bring electric buses to four counties across the state,” said Emily Boedecker, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “Not only will this program help us to determine the feasibility of electric buses in Vermont, it will also serve to introduce students and public transit riders in our communities to cleaner vehicles while improving the air quality of our public spaces.”

As SBF previously reported, the two-year pilot program will be administered by VEIC to evaluate electric school and transit bus operations in the state. Over the next several months, VEIC will work with each participating school district and transit agency to purchase the electric buses, acquire the necessary charging infrastructure, and identify facility upgrades needed to support the vehicles. Once the buses and equipment are delivered, the buses will be tracked and evaluated for a full year. Throughout this year of operation, VEIC will provide technical assistance to the selected schools and transit providers, while also evaluating and reporting on the performance of the vehicles.

“We are thrilled to see the VW settlement funds working to benefit Vermonters and to advance electric vehicle use,” said Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, director of clean transportation for VEIC. “The transportation sector is the largest source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions in our state and it is vital that we seek solutions to reduce these emissions. This pilot will help us to evaluate the benefits of electric buses and assess how they perform in a range of typical Vermont conditions and terrain. With this information we hope to build confidence that electric buses can work in Vermont and support greater adoption and impact in the future.”

John Pandolfo, the superintendent for Barre Unified Union School District, said that the district’s adoption of electric buses will provide significant economic and educational benefits.

"The district continuously encourages students to compost, recycle, and take care of their environment. The buses represent another teachable moment in this area. This is an exciting learning experience for Barre students. Most children have only read about this in books, we are excited that the children in this community will actually be able to say, ‘I rode to school in an electric bus,’” Pandolfo said.

Jeanne Jensen, the chief operations officer for Champlain Valley School District, added that the new buses will allow her district "to not only transport students more safely and efficiently, but to make a concrete example of how we live up to our values. We are excited to take such an important role in helping Vermont reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency."

Several agencies contributed to the launch of the state’s electric school and transit bus pilot program, including the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP), the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Superintendents Association, and the Vermont Department of Public Service.

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