Infrastructure grants to nearly double number of zero-emission buses
North Carolina’s city of Asheville said it was awarded $4.2 million to buy six hybrid buses and three replacement batteries for vehicles already part of their fleet. Photo courtesy of City of Asheville/Release

Aug. 17 (UPI) — The Biden administration said it is nearly doubling the number of zero-emission buses on U.S. roads with a single year’s funding.

The Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday announced $1.66 billion in grants to transit agencies and local and state governments nationwide to invest in 150 bus fleets and facilities, equalling about 1,800 new buses of which 1,100 will use zero-emission engines.

“With today’s awards, we’re helping communities across America — in cities, suburbs and rural areas alike — purchase more than 1,800 new buses, and most of them are zero-emissions,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

The funding comes from President Joe Biden‘s more than $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that he signed into law in November that injects funds to rebuild roads, bridges and rails while addressing the climate crisis.

For transportation, the bill includes $5.5 billion in funding over the next five to replace deficient transit vehicles with zero-emissions vehicles.

The FTA said it selected 150 projects from the 530 proposals totally some $7.72 billion in requests it had received.

Some of the larger grants will see the New York transit authority receive $116 million to cover 230 electric buses and the Los Angeles County authority get $104.1 million to buy 160 electric buses

Funds are also going to smaller communities.

Officials for the North Carolinian city of Asheville said it had been awarded $4.2 million that will allow them to buy six hybrid buses to replace existing hybrid buses that have been in service since 2010 and three replacement batteries for other vehicles already part of their fleet.

In Hawaii, the Department of Transport said grants worth a combined $35 million were awarded to the counties of Hawaii, Kauai and Maui so they can purchase 21 alternative energy and low-emission buses. Honolulu also secured an additional $20 million for new buses, though the specific number and what type were not specified.

“These competitive grants will benefit many thousands of residents and visitors to those islands,” Jade Butay, director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez called public transit in all forms “a great equalizer” and that the infrastructure law “gives more Americans access to the opportunities that transit creates, more often, in more places.”

“These investments also help us meet our goals of cutting transportation emissions, creating good-paying American manufacturing jobs and helping America’s transit workers prepare for new vehicle technology,” she said.

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