Virginia Uses Volkswagen Payout to Buy Electric Buses

Published December 10, 2018

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced the Commonwealth will use some of the money it received as part of a $93 million settlement from Volkswagen to help local transit authorities switch out aging fossil fuel powered public buses for electric buses.

Volkswagen’s settlement was part of its payout for modifying the computer software in its vehicles to cheat state emission tests, allowing its vehicles to emit more air pollution than allowed by federal law.

Universal, Less Polluting Transportation

“We obviously want everybody to have access to transportation, but we really want to move toward clean energy, renewable energy,” Northam told the assembled press shortly after speaking at a state transportation conference in Norfolk on October 31. To facilitate that, the Governor said the state would give $14 million dollars to help local authorities purchase electric buses, saying “This is a big step in that direction.”

Virginia has already used $14 million of the settlement to establish a number of electric charging stations across the state. The electric buses are a second step in the administration’s clean energy efforts.

To encourage localities to replace older fossil fuel powered buses with electric ones, while allowing the money to stretch as far as it can, rather than paying for electric buses in their entirety outright, the state’s money can be used by cities to cover the price difference between less expensive traditional fossil fuel powered buses and electric ones.

Allocated in this way, the state’s contribution should allow localities to acquire several dozen electric buses across the state, Jennifer Mitchell, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, told the Virginian-Pilot.

Local government can begin applying for the money in December, with the funds to be delivered over the following six months. Cities with particularly aging bus fleets will be given priority.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.