Virginia devotes $14 million to deploying all-electric bus fleet across the state

    Virginia Mercury

    Virginia is investing $14 million to deploy all-electric transit buses across the state, according to a news release.

    The investment represents 15 percent of the Virginia’s $93.6 million Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation. Earlier this year, the state devoted another 15 percent of the allocation to set up a contract with a charging station company to create a statewide electric vehicle charging network.

    “Electric transportation is a critical part of our climate strategy to reduce pollution and advance the clean economy,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in the news release. “This funding will support the move to 21st century transit and help make Virginia an even better place to live, work, play, start a business and raise a family.”

    An electric vehicle’s carbon footprint depends on the electricity used to charge them, the news release states. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that electric vehicles in Virginia produce 70 percent fewer carbon emissions than gas-powered vehicles.

    The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will provide the funding through a Clean Transportation Voucher Program that will replace heavy and medium-duty polluting buses with cleaner vehicles, the release states, “to cover the incremental cost of transitioning from new diesel buses to new all-electric buses.”

    “Electric buses provide significant public benefit compared to their diesel counterparts,” Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler said in a statement. “Reduced air pollution from this investment will lead to better health outcomes for Virginia and reduced carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.”

    The project will be submitted through the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s annual public transportation capital grant cycle known as MERIT (Making Efficient and Responsible Investments in Transit), which begins Dec. 1 and runs through Feb. 1, 2019.

    The state Department of General Services will soon be adding electric buses to the statewide contract for transit buses.

    Joint procurement, the state says, decreases administrative and contract costs for local governments and transit agencies.

    “In fact, some transit agencies have already started moving toward electric buses, such as Hampton Roads Transit,” the statement from the governor’s office said.