Waynesboro Public Schools to add six more electric buses to its fleet

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 7:29 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - Waynesboro Public Schools will be adding six new electric school buses to its fleet later this year. The buses will be purchased through a grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality which will subsidize the difference in cost between an electric bus and a regular diesel bus.

“We plan to order those this month and then there will be a 6 to 8 month wait time on them. We hope to install some additional chargers during that time and when those buses arrive we’ll incorporate them into our fleet with a goal of having mostly electric buses,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cassell, superintendent of Waynesboro Public Schools.

Back in 2020, the school division received two electric buses as part of a similar grant program from Dominion Energy.

Those two buses have now been in action for more than a year and the school division is very happy with them.

“The advantages of the electric buses is we don’t have fuel costs, there is no diesel fuel obviously and buses are not fuel-efficient they get about 5 miles to the gallon. They’re very quiet. There’s very little maintenance,” said Cassell.

Cassell said the financial benefits of the two buses have been significant over the last few months at a time when diesel prices have skyrocketed.

“It does help our budgeting considerably. The cost of school for a bus depending on the route and the distance is a few thousand dollars each year and that’s just costs we’re not incurring with our current two buses,” said Cassell.

Cassell said the division has been using the buses more and more because of their efficiency.

“I think it’s consistent with our goals at Waynesboro Public Schools of being environmentally friendly. We’ve got solar panels on most of our buildings now, we’re doing a lot of education work through our science programs on solar panels and we’re beginning to incorporate the electric buses in that process,” he said.

Cassell said that the higher costs of electric buses are a limiting factor for school divisions that are unable to receive grants to cover the difference but that long term it is a financial benefit due to reduced fuel costs.

“Now that we’ve got the buses and we have some data that we can use we’ll know our savings each year. So we’ll be able to predict out over the 12 or 15-year life of a bus what is the break-even cost when we pay more for an electric or a diesel bus versus what it ends up saving us in the long-run,” he said.

Elsewhere in the Shenandoah Valley, the city of Harrisonburg is hoping to receive a similar grant to get two electric school buses of its own.

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