Northam announces grants to replace 83 diesel school buses with clean alternatives

school bus
(© Stuart Monk –

Augusta County will receive a grant from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to replace two diesel school buses with electric  buses.

“We are proud to set an example for our students and show that we are intently working towards, and contributing to, a brighter environmental future,” said Augusta County Public Schools Director of Transportation Terry Lafon. “With these funds, we will be doubling our fleet of electric buses and replacing 1996 and 1997 diesel buses, which will immediately benefit riders with a major reduction in both noise pollution and carbon fuel emissions.”

Gov. Ralph Northam announced today that more than $10.5 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust will be used replace 83 diesel school buses in 19 school districts across Commonwealth.

Award recipients

  • Albemarle County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Arlington County: $795,000 | three electric buses
  • Augusta County: $523,198 | two electric buses
  • Bedford County: $247,322 | one electric bus
  • Caroline County: $265,000 | one electric bus
  • Chesterfield County: $96,226 | ten propane buses
  • Culpeper County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Essex County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Fairfax County: $2,650,000 | ten electric buses
  • Falls Church City: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Halifax County: $79,820 | ten propane buses
  • Loudoun County: $1,442,244 | six electric buses
  • Louisa County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Middlesex County: $512,346 | two electric buses
  • Montgomery County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Newport News: $79,820 | ten propane buses
  • Norfolk: $26,800 | four propane buses
  • Southampton County: $530,000 | two electric buses
  • Virginia Beach: $137,480 | ten propane buses

By providing funds for clean school buses, the Department of Environmental Quality will help Virginia achieve clean energy goals, reduce air pollution, and mitigate climate change. The grant that provides the money for this initiative came from a Trust, funded by the Volkswagen settlement, that is working to reduce emissions and support environmental programs.

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

Northam announced the launch of the $20 million program in May 2021 to help transition school buses away from diesel and toward cleaner fuels like electricity and propane. The program’s investments in clean alternatives, which are intended to reduce harmful vehicle pollution, have helped accelerate an equitable transition to a cleaner economy for all Virginians.

“It is encouraging to see how successful the funds from the Volkswagen settlement have been in supporting clean alternatives for transportation,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “We have been clear that Virginia’s environment is a top priority. 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.”

The attorney general’s office announced a settlement with Volkswagen in 2016 that committed $2.7 billion to environmental mitigation. This settlement has provided the funding for many eco-friendly initiatives across the Commonwealth. The attorney general’s negotiations of this settlement secured resources for environmental causes for many years to come, and reinforces Virginia’s commitment to a clean economy.

“The Northam administration has remained committed to fighting the impacts of climate change and finding solutions that help Virginians every day,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Replacing aging and dirty buses is not only better for the health of school children, it also saves school divisions tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a bus and helps advance Virginia’s clean energy goals.”

“Virginia’s investments in electrifying the school bus fleets is an important and critical part of our comprehensive approach to reducing pollution,” said Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor. “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.”

In 2019, Northam directed $20 million from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to support new initiatives aimed at deploying electric school buses across the Commonwealth.

The Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for distributing Virginia’s share of $93.6 million from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust by investing in a diverse range of technologies that provide cost-effective, near-term emission benefits coupled with zero-emission technologies that provide long-term benefits.

To date, approximately $62 million has been awarded for innovative projects including electric transit, school and shuttle buses, electric equipment at the Port of Virginia, and the development of a statewide electric-vehicle charging network.

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. Sign up here to receive updates on funding opportunities.

Additional information on the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust and efforts to reduce air pollution in Virginia is available on the Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

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