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Vermont pilot program tests electric school buses

October 30, 2021 GMT

FAIRFAX, Vt. (AP) — Some Vermont school districts are using electric school buses this fall as part of a pilot project to test their effectiveness.

Gov. Phil Scott and education leaders celebrated the introduction of four electric buses in Fairfax on Thursday with more expected to arrive next month. The buses also being used by the Champlain Valley School District and the Barre Unified Union District will start using them next month.

“We are beyond excited to add electric buses to our fleet,” said Justin Brown, middle school principal at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax. “We all hope this paves the way for more ‘green’ transportation in our, and our kids’, future.”

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately save school districts money, officials said. An emissions settlement with Volkswagen is funding most of the project. The school districts each get two buses.

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Bus driver Patsy Parker said the electric buses are quieter than diesel models, which she believes makes her young passengers quieter, too. The buses battery range has forced schools to reconsider some routes, particularly during cold weather, school officials said.

“Where we would normally be able to go 120 miles a day, we’re limiting more to 60 or 70 miles a day because of the cold weather. But that’s what this pilot program is about, figuring out what we can do with these buses and what we can improve on,” Parker said.