JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Washington County, Tennessee school system unveiled a brand new addition Thursday that is already making history on the roadways.
The new school bus is completely electric, quiet and can travel around 120 miles on a single charge.
Washington County students will be the first in Tennessee to ride an all-electric school bus.
County Mayor Joe Grandy says this is a big day.
“We were the first county in Tennessee, the first town in Tennessee, now we have the first electric bus in the state. I think it’s really important to be innovative, and this shows East Tennessee in a great light,” said Grandy.
The school system was granted nearly $220,000 through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to purchase the bus and its charging station.
“Recent studies have shown that the negative impacts in academic performance from student exposure to transportation-related emissions is a real issue,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers.
The bus is meant to reduce carbon emissions and also lower fuel costs while promoting a healthier environment for students and the community.
“For the state of Tennessee, this is a big deal. In the sense of moving into zero-emission school transportation,” said Jerry Boyd, director of schools for Washington County.
This is the first step in making a huge difference statewide, promoting better air quality with more electric vehicles. It is part of an initiative to grow Tennessee’s electric vehicle presence.
“Tennessee is leading from the front on this issue. Our state is proud to be number one in the Southeast for EV and related parts manufactured,” said Salyers.
“For us, this is the future. This is where we want to be this is where we want our communities to be,” said BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes.
A partnership between BrightRidge and the Tennessee Valley Authority helped make this possible at no additional cost to taxpayers. For students, it’s a before-and-after class lesson on making responsible choices for the environment.
“The exciting thing, not only will they get to ride an electric bus, they will get to learn about an electric bus,” said Dykes.
Washington County leaders say this is one small change that will have a huge impact for years to come.
“Electric vehicles are a good thing. It’s the wave of the future. For Washington County Schools to lead the way on that, we pride ourselves in being a great school system and being number one,” said Jarrod Adams, assistant director of schools.
The school system hopes to add more electric buses to its fleet within the next few years and inspire other Tennessee districts to do the same.
The new bus will start running this fall on a regular route, five days a week, replacing one of the county’s old diesel-powered buses.