Home Waynesboro Schools continues progress toward environmentally-friendly bus fleet

Waynesboro Schools continues progress toward environmentally-friendly bus fleet

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By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

WAYNESBORO — Waynesboro Schools is getting more electric with transportation.

A $1.4 million grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will allow the school system to add six electric buses to its fleet. The school system all ready has two electric buses.

“We’re excited to have them and hope to continue to add to our fleet as we’re able to,” said Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell.

According to Cassell, a diesel bus costs $120,000, but the same model bus in electric costs $370,000 each. The school system must have grant funding to cover the difference of the cost between a diesel and an electric bus.

Cassell said electric buses provide the school system annual cost savings in fuel and maintenance. The hope is that that savings will continue to assist the school system in obtaining grant funding for more electric buses.

“It’s a significant savings to the school system,” Cassell said.

Electric buses require no fuel and no oil changes. Electric buses are also quieter and reduce noise pollution.

“It helps us obviously environmentally,” Cassell said.

The school system expects to receive the buses by the end of 2022. Two charging stations are available at Berkeley Glenn Elementary School, and Cassell said six more can be added at the school. Dominion Energy has assisted school systems with charging stations, and Waynesboro plans to have eight more installed at William Perry Elementary School, which would give the school system opportunities to add to its fleet.

The Virginia DEQ awarded recent Clean School Bus Program funding to provide 58 electric buses to 11 school systems, including Waynesboro, Albemarle County, and the cities of Harrisonburg and Fredericksburg, according to a press release. The funds are available from $93.6 million allocated in the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust for Virginia.

“Replacing older diesel school buses will directly benefit thousands of students and their health by reducing their exposure to air pollution,” DEQ Air and Renewable Energy Director Mike Dowd said in the release. “These new buses will also prevent the release of 62 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and will save school districts more than a million gallons of diesel fuel.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.