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Virginia Will Invest $12 Million To Deploy Electric Transit Buses
July 10, 2019

In a statement released by Governor Ralph S. Northam’s office, the State of Virginia will invest more than $12 million in state funding to deploy electric transit buses in three Virginia localities, using nearly $9 million from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Trust) that the Commonwealth received as part of its settlement with Volkswagen. In total, 17 electric buses and charging infrastructure will be deployed by local transit systems in Alexandria, Blacksburg, and Hampton Roads.

The $9 million from the VW Trust will be augmented by $3.5 million from the statewide transit capital program, as well as another $6.5 million in federal and local funds. This allocation is part of a commitment announced last fall of $14 million in VW Trust funding for electric transit buses. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will make the remaining $5 million of the $14 million initial allocation available for electric transit buses for next year’s transit grant cycle, which will open on December 1, 2019.

According to Governor Northam, “Electric buses are a key component of Virginia’s strategy to address the climate crisis, reduce air pollution in our communities, and drive innovation across the Commonwealth. We are demonstrating how entrepreneurs, government, and industry partners are coming together to implement the best renewable energy technologies available and power the clean economy.”

Funding allocation for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), was secured with the approval of the Fiscal Year 2020–2025 Six-Year Improvement Program by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). DRPT is working closely with DEQ, the designated lead agency implementing Virginia’s VW Trust allocation, and the Virginia Department of General Services (DGS).

Recipients of VW Trust and statewide transit capital funding include:

Alexandria (DASH): approximately $5.1 million for six battery-electric transit buses and fast chargers;
Blacksburg Transit: approximately $3.3 million for five battery-electric transit buses and fast chargers; and
Hampton Roads Transit: approximately $3.9 million for six battery-electric transit buses and fast chargers.

Following a comprehensive review and analysis of all funding requests by DRPT and DEQ, these buses were identified for replacement using DRPT’s Making Efficient and Responsible Investments in Transit (MERIT) project prioritization process. Funding recipients must purchase the electric buses and place them into service within two years.

With savings from lower fuel and maintenance costs consistent with electric vehicles of all types, using electric buses will also reduce operational costs for transit agencies. The typical useful life of a transit bus is twelve years. By investing in electric buses, over that time, these transit agencies will, combined, eliminate the need for approximately 2 million gallons of diesel fuel and avoid 612,000 tons of carbon emissions and 129,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions.

DGS is establishing a statewide contract for electric transit buses, based on specifications outlined by DRPT that will be open to all state and local public bodies. Having a statewide contract for these critical assets decreases administrative contract costs for transit agencies and expedites the procurement of electric buses.

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