On a four-day tour throughout the Commonwealth, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) made a stop at Lynchburg, Virginia-based school bus company Sonny Merryman Inc. to discuss electric school buses and infrastructure.
Warner specifically talked about the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the Senate earlier this month. The plan includes $5 billion for electric and low-emissions school buses and would also allocate to Virginia at least $106 million over five years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network.
“There is no better part of our fleet to start this transformation than school buses,” Warner said during the visit. “This bill got 69 votes in the U.S. Senate. Now we’ve got to hope it gets through the house as quickly as possible so we can get it on the President’s desk — signed — and start implementing these changes to keep Virginia competitive and to make sure we make that switch to sustainable mobility.”
As part of an electric school bus program with school bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses and Virginia-based power company Dominion Energy, Sonny Merryman has delivered a total of 50 Jouley electric school buses to 15 Virginia localities during the 2020-21 school year. With the recently announced Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Clean School Bus Program funding and the American Power electric school bus program, Sonny Merryman will be delivering more than 40 Jouley electric school buses during the 2021-22 school year across Virginia.
In addition to Warner, several other guests, including local government officials, school division administration and transportation teams, utility and infrastructure partners, clean energy associations, and Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, were in attendance.
“What is taking place with electric school buses is transforming our world for our children,” Valentine said during the event. “These are transformational investments that are needed. To achieve this, it takes all of us — citizens, utilities, business and industry leaders, and bipartisan policymakers.”
As School Bus Fleet previously reported, on Thursday, Virginia has allocated more than $10.5 million of its Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase 83 new electric and propane buses for 19 school districts. The funding is part of several electric vehicle initiatives across the state.
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.