Three Vermont School Districts Now Ride With Electric Bus Pilot Program
(WFFF) – 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.
The Champlain Valley School District and the Franklin West Supervisory Union have been using electric buses to transport students from day one of school. Officials at the Barre Unified Union school district expect to get the electric buses next month.
This is part of a pilot program that will test the effectiveness of replacing Vermont’s diesel bus fleet with electric buses. Gov. Phil Scott said it was an important step in achieving the state’s collective climate action plan.
“The challenges ahead are great and there are no easy answers,” Governor Scott said. “But many small steps like this are part of the solution.”
Most of the funding comes from an emissions regulation with Volkswagen. Patsy Parker, the transportation supervisor at Bellows Falls Academy, said electric buses offer a quieter ride and long-term profitability.
“These buses are very comfortable to ride, so much so that even children notice the comfort,” she said. “They notice how quiet the buses are. I remember there was a boy who said ‘does this thing even run?’ and it was!”
Data will be collected for at least a year to determine what works and what does not. Parker says there are questions about how the buses will operate in cold weather.
“When you first start using the heaters, they tap into the battery, reducing the distance you can travel,” Parker said. “But see what this pilot program is all about, to see where improvements need to be made to find out how efficient these vehicles really are. “