Three Vermont school districts now rolling with electric bus pilot program

Vermont

Three Vermont school districts have been selected to each receive two electric school buses, making students among the first to experience the state’s transition to clean energy.

Champlain Valley School District and Franklin West Supervisory Union have been using the e-buses to transport students since the first day of school. Barre Unified Union School District officials expect to get the electric buses next month.

It’s part of a pilot program that will test the effectiveness of replacing Vermont’s fleet of diesel buses with electric ones. Governor Phil Scott says it’s an important step in achieving the state’s collective climate action plan.

“The challenges ahead are great and there are no easy answers,” Gov. Scott said. “But many small steps like this are part of the solution.”

Most of the funding comes from an emissions settlement with Volkswagon. Patsy Parker, the transportation supervisor at Bellows Falls Academy, said the electric buses boast a quieter ride and long-term cost efficiency.

“These buses are very comfortable to ride on, to such an extent that even the kids notice the comfort,” she said. “They notice how quiet the buses are. I remember there was a boy who said ‘is this thing even running?’ and it was!”

Data will be collected for at least a year to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Parker says there are some questions about how the buses will operate in the cold.

“When you start using the heaters, it draws from the battery so it diminishes the distance you can travel,” Parker said. “But thatch what this pilot program is all about, to see where improvements need to be made to actually find out how efficient these vehicles actually are.”

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