Electric buses may be coming to a school or transit center near you! Late last year, Barre Unified Union School District, Champlain Valley School District, Franklin West Supervisory Union, and Marble Valley Regional Transit District were all chosen by the Department of Environmental Conservation to be part of the new Electric Bus Program. The program aims to demonstrate the viability of the technology as a reliable and cost-effective option for school districts and transit agencies. This project is funded by Vermont’s $18.7 million share of the Volkswagen Settlement Mitigation Trust.
While fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs can make an e-bus cheaper over the full life of the vehicle, proving the case for making that steep investment, both for individual schools and more broadly at the statewide level, is a core goal of the pilot. Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur, director of transportation efficiency at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, the consulting group selected to administer the program, will help determine if the program achieves its goals. Additionally, the buses can help save money in ways that diesel buses could not. During the summer, when solar generation is the highest, schools could be paid by utilities for the excess solar, especially during peak times, to subsidize the costs of the buses.