NORFOLK -The Commonwealth will spend $14 million to help local transit authorities switch their aging public bus fleets to electric vehicles, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday.
“We obviously want everybody to have access to transportation, but we really want to move toward clean energy, renewable energy,” Northam told reporters after addressing a state transportation conference at The Main downtown. “This is a big step in that direction.”
The money comes from a $93 million settlement Virginia received from Volkswagen after allegations the company modified its car computer software to cheat federal emissions standards. The first $14 million of that was used for electric charging stations in the commonwealth. The buses are the second phase, the governor said.
The state’s contributions will not cover the cost of the buses themselves, but rather the difference between the cost of a traditional bus and an electric one. It’s meant to encourage localities to opt for the latter.
Jennifer Mitchell, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, said the money should be able to help acquire several dozen buses statewide. Lifetime costs associated with electric buses are lower than traditional, she added.