VIENNA, Va. (WDVM) — Mothers Out Front Fairfax, a chapter of the national climate group, wants the Fairfax County School Board to ditch its diesel fueled school buses in exchange for electric school buses; the healthier choice for the kids, and for the environment.
“We have the second-largest fleet in the country, so if we make this change it’s going to make a real impact on the entire country’s emissions,” said Bobby Monacella, co-leader of Mothers Out Front Fairfax. “It’s just important, I think, for everyone in Fairfax County to reach out to the school board and let them know that they care about this.”
School board member Patricia Hynes of the Hunter Mill District thinks the county is ready. “Over the last couple years [the school board has] taken some important votes when it comes to converting the school system to renewable energy, and we’ve had almost unanimous votes.”
According to the World Health Organization, diesel exhaust contributes to many respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Electric buses have zero tailpipe emissions, which means they don’t emit that exhaust or harmful greenhouse gases.
“They have a lower center of gravity, so they don’t roll over as easily; they don’t skid as easily; they brake better; they start better; they are way safer,” said Monacella.
But they also have a hefty price tag. Hynes says an electric school bus costs about three times as much as a diesel bus. “A government entity like ours will partner with a local utility, and that utility helps to make that upfront investment basically the battery, which is the most expensive part of the bus.”
Hynes hopes the county’s utility, Dominion Energy, will be willing to partner.
The school board and county government have put together a joint environmental task force called “The Jet.” Starting this September, appointed members will be working in the public sector to make county buildings and transportation greener.