Campbell County Public Schools unveils new electric buses, becomes first Central Virginia division to have them

A grant from AEP covered the majority of the $720,000 price tag

Campbell County Public Schools introduced two new buses Friday morning, but unlike the rest of their fleet, these are electric.

CAMPBELL COUNTY, Va.Campbell County Public Schools unveiled two new, electric buses and charging stations Friday at Leesville Road Elementary.

The local, family-owned Sonny Merryman Bus Company built the wheels and says it’s the future of transportation.

“Electric is where it’s going. I mean, it’s no question about that,” said Floyd Merryman.

The new buses and chargers cost about $720,000. A grant from AEP covers the majority of the price, allowing Campbell County the first Central Virginia school division to have electric buses.

On a full, eight-hour charge, they’ll travel about 130 miles.

Dr. Tim Hoden, director of operations for Campbell County Schools, says that’s a big difference compared to their 135 diesel buses.

“We use, depending on the month, around 20,000 gallons of fuel per month, and a diesel bus gets seven-to-eight miles a gallon,” said Hoden.

Merryman says by replacing one diesel bus with an electric one, it eliminates about 15 tons of greenhouses gas each year. That’s the equivalent of about 500,000 birthday balloons.

But more clean energy requires more money.

“These buses are very expensive right now, about three times what a regular bus cost. But the way to get the price down is to increase the volume,” said Merryman.

The company started increasing the volume in 2020 when they rolled out 50 across the Commonwealth.

Merryman says they’re already seeing an impact from those. The 50 buses cut operations costs in about half because they’re saving on fuel and oil changes.

Hoden looks forward to learning where Campbell County can put its future savings.

“We’re hoping to really take down some figures and see exactly how much money we’ll be able to save,” said Hoden.

The company’s delivering 30 more electric buses later this year.

Amherst, Bedford, and Montgomery Counties are expected to receive some of those school buses through an AEP grant.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.