3 local school districts awarded grant to replace school buses with clean alternatives

Chesapeake Electric School Bus.jpg
Posted at 9:31 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 21:31:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Cleaner transportation will soon be used to get students in three local school districts to and from school.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday more than $10.5 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will be used to replace 83 diesel school buses with electric and propane buses in 19 school districts across the Commonwealth.

Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach are among the school districts that will receive the new buses. In May, we reported that electric buses joined the fleet at Chesapeake Public Schools.

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 governor's office says 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,” said Gov. Northam. “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.

Award recipients for the first round of clean school bus alternatives include:

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

Culpeper County

  • $530,000 | two electric buses

Essex County

  • $530,000 | two electric buses

Fairfax County

  • $2,650,000 | 10 electric buses

Falls Church City

  • $530,000 | two electric 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

Southampton County

  • $530,000 | two electric buses

Chesterfield County

  • $96,226 | 10 propane buses

Halifax County

  • $79,820 | 10 propane buses

Newport News

  • $79,820 | 10 propane buses


  • $26,800 | four propane buses

Virginia Beach

  • $137,480 | 10 propane buses

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

“Being selected to receive funds for 10 propane buses expands our ability to provide safe, reliable, and clean transportation for our students who deserve nothing but the best,” said Newport News Public Schools Director of Transportation Shay Coates. “As a major organization within our community, we feel we must set the example in protecting our environment.”

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.

Related: 'Our children’s future is at stake': Local advocates call for federal investment in clean transportation

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.