The Alexandria City Public Schools have taken steps towards a greener future under the leadership of Dr. Alicia Hart, the Chief of Facilities and Operations. The district had the privilege of collaborating with Dominion Energy in 2020 through a grant program aimed at electric buses. The outcome was the acquisition of five electric buses in 2021 with an additional 10 set to arrive in the near future, according to Dr. Hart.
“The arrival of the 10 new electric buses will bring Alexandria City Public Schools’ total to 15, positioning them as a leader in sustainable school transportation in Virginia. According to Dr. Hart, “We recognize the pressing need to take care of our planet and are eager to do our part in any way possible.”
Mechale Johnson, the Director of Pupil Transportation and Fleet Management, shared the students’ perspective on the new electric buses. She stated that the students appreciate the improved communication with the driver, as there’s no longer the noise from a diesel engine to overpower their voices. The quietness of the electric buses creates an environment that allows for more peaceful conversation.
The shift to electric buses is not only environmentally conscious, but also economically advantageous. According to Johnson, the elimination of fuel usage results in yearly savings of around $6,000 to $9,000. These electric buses also serve as a backup power source in the event of an outage. With vehicle-to-grid technology, they can function as a mobile power station and provide power to any building in the city during power failures or emergencies, as explained by Johnson.
Rosemary Burzynski, an electric bus driver, expresses her preference for the electric bus, saying she would never go back to driving a diesel bus. The electric bus provides a smoother ride for both the driver and students and is better for the environment. According to her, the road is less bumpy and the students are particularly fond of it.
Dr. Hart shares in the excitement and sees this as a significant step towards sustainability. She stated, “We are thrilled to be pushing towards a greener future and will continue to seek opportunities to promote sustainability within our community.”