Virginia awards $10M to electrify local school bus fleets

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that more than $10 million in grants is being awarded to 19 school districts to replace 83 diesel school buses with electric and propane buses.

The funds, which will be administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will go to five counties in Northern Virginia:

  • Arlington County will receive $795,000 for three electric buses.
  • Culpeper County will receive $530,000 for two electric buses.
  • Fairfax County will receive $2.6 million for 10 electric buses.
  • Falls Church City will receive $530,000 for two electric buses.
  • Loudoun County will receive $1.4 million for six electric buses.

“We all benefit from transitioning away from diesel school buses and investing in clean alternatives for our transportation system,” Northam said in a news 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.”

The funds come from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which was created to settle legal allegations that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act through the use of devices designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.

That settlement, announced in 2016, committed $2.7 billion to environmental mitigation efforts and has provided funding for various eco-friendly initiatives across the commonwealth.

“It is encouraging to see how successful the funds from the Volkswagen settlement have been in supporting clean alternatives for transportation,” Attorney General Mark Herring said in the news release. “I am proud that this settlement is being used to support important causes, like providing clean, safe and healthy transportation for children going to and from school.”

David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said the state’s investments in electrifying school bus fleets are critical to its efforts to reduce pollution.

“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,” he said.

The Department of Environmental Quality will begin accepting applications in October for an additional round of funds for public school districts to purchase more propane or electric school buses.

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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