On a windy, sunny morning this Tuesday, a large contingent gathered at Oak Street Elementary School to see the unveiling of the first two electric school buses for Falls Church City Schools. Attendees included City Council and School Board members, as well as a large group of Oak Street Elementary students who cut the ribbon to celebrate the arrival of the buses.
Remarks were made by Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) Superintendent Peter Noonan, F.C. School Board vice chair Tate Gould, Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Sonny Merryman, the firm involved in the transaction, Josh Eakle, general manager of Dominion Energy and F.C. Schools transportation director Regina Anderson. State Del. Marcus Simon and Falls Church Mayor David Tarter were among those in attendance.
The speakers took turns explaining how the new electric buses will ensure the safety of both students and the environment. The final speaker was fifth grade student Henry Tiedelman, who spoke to the pros of using electric school buses compared to gas-fueled.
The two Jouley-brand electric buses feature specialized battery packaging, production of zero emissions, lower mechanical maintenance costs and quiet operations, among other things making it easier for students to communicate with drivers.
FCCPS was awarded $530,000 by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to help support the purchase of the two new electric school buses. The funding comes from Virginia’s $93.6 million allocation to the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which supports initiatives to reduce air pollution. Dominion Energy funded the installation of the related Proterra charging infrastructure.
The Thomas Jouley buses are environmentally efficient, noise pollution-free, and fossil fuel-free. They can seat up to 77 students and travel approximately 135 miles on a three-hour charge. An electric bus reduces operation and maintenance costs for schools by 60 percent. Replacing one diesel bus with an electric bus is equivalent to removing five cars from the road.
Aside from reducing maintenance costs and emissions, the new buses’ batteries will be able to store and inject electric energy into the local power grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for student transportation.