Virginia has allocated more than $10.5 million of its Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds to purchase new electric and propane buses for 19 school districts.
Governor Ralph Northam announced during a press conference on Thursday that the funds, administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will be used to replace 83 diesel school buses across the state, according to a news release from Northam’s office.
“We all benefit from transitioning away from diesel school buses and investing in clean alternatives for our transportation system,” Northam said in the release. “I know how important clean air is for children’s health. Since I took office, the Commonwealth has been focused on transforming the electric grid, developing clean energy resources, and addressing the climate crisis through initiatives that allow Virginia to invest in a clean and healthy future.”
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, in September 2019, Northam first announced $20 million of the state’s $93.6 million share of VW funds to support new electric school bus initiatives across the state. In May 2021, Northam approved another $20 million of VW funds for electric school buses.
“Virginia’s investments in electrifying the school bus fleets is an important and critical part of our comprehensive approach to reducing pollution,” David Paylor, director of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, said in the release. “Collectively, the replacement of these school buses is calculated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 tons per year, and will save one million gallons of diesel fuel, equivalent to removing 2,000 cars from the road.”
Augusta County Public Schools in Verona, Virginia, is one of the 19 school districts receiving funding for the new, cleaner fuel buses.
“We are proud to set an example for our students and show that we are intently working towards, and contributing to, a brighter environmental future,” Terry Lafon, the district's director of transportation, added in the release. “With these funds, we will be doubling our fleet of electric buses and replacing 1996 and 1997 diesel buses, which will immediately benefit riders with a major reduction in both noise pollution and carbon fuel emissions.”
To date, approximately $62 million has been awarded for clean fuel projects in Virginia, including electric transit, school, and shuttle buses; electric equipment at the Port of Virginia; and the development of a statewide electric vehicle charging network.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will begin accepting applications in October for an additional round of funds for public school districts to purchase more propane and electric school buses.