FCPS and local elected officials celebrate roll out of 42 new electric buses

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Local elected officials, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, gathered in Lorton on Wednesday to celebrate the introduction of 42 new electric buses to the division’s fleet.

These buses, which were funded by a $16.5 million federal grant announced in January, join the 18 electric buses already in operation. Although the division currently operates over 1,600 diesel buses, county officials emphasized that these new electric buses mark the start of a larger transition.

“I know that this downpayment is the beginning of something much larger, and that’s going to take many years for us to complete,” School Board Chair Karl Frisch told the crowd of attendees at Lorton Station Elementary School on Wednesday.

“But I’m confident with our continued activism by our students, their parents, our Moms Clean Air Force and our school board colleagues and our friends at the state and federal level that we can get there because we absolutely have to,” he continued.

FCPS has pledged to provide entirely carbon-neutral student transportation by 2035. So far, the division has reduced 38% of its greenhouse gas emissions from 2008, according to the 2022 FCPS Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report.

In January 2021, the division received its first electric school bus as part of a Dominion Energy-led initiative aiming to replace all diesel school buses in Virginia by 2030. However, the Virginia House of Delegates rejected the expansion of this program, opting instead to create a grant fund.

In March, VDOT announced it had allocated $11.3 million in federal funding to assist the statewide construction of electric vehicle charging stations.

FCPS received eight electric buses from Dominion in 2021 and secured a state grant for 10 additional buses through a settlement with Volkswagen, which had been sued for emissions test cheating in 2016.

The new federal grant funds come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Joe Biden in 2021. The grant, administered through the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, allocates $5 billion to the Clean School Bus program which is dedicated to replacing existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models.

“Every day throughout the United States we’re transporting 10s of millions of students on buses, and many of those buses are anything but clean,” Connolly said during the event.

“Here in Fairfax we’ve got 1,600 school buses, and today’s a great down payment toward a movement for replacing every one of them and making sure our kids are safe and in a healthy environment but also in a vehicle that is not contributing to the environmental problem,” he added.