USDOT announces US$55m of clean bus grants

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Following hard on the heels of the UK government’s announcement that it is providing an additional £30m (US$39.2m) of funding for the introduction of over 300 new low-emission buses across England, the US government is following suit. Both legislatures have similar long-term aims of reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality, by providing bus passengers with cleaner, greener journeys.

The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced selections for an expanded Low or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus Competitive Grant Program that reflects growing interest in new technology buses. A total of 20 transit providers in 13 states will receive a share of US$55m for buses and related technology that replaces aging diesel fuel buses with battery-electric or fuel cell-powered vehicles and incorporates other innovations. Replacing traditional buses with electricity-powered buses that generate low or no emissions lessens the reliance on fossil fuel, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improves operating efficiency.

The selected projects represent strategic investments to help reduce air pollution, train employees in maintaining new technology buses, and connect people to jobs and services through efficient bus transit networks. The FTA awarded the FY 2016 funds after a competitive review of more than 100 applications. The grants allow agencies to acquire buses and supporting facilities and infrastructure, such as maintenance facilities and recharging equipment, including new ‘en-route’ charging that extends battery life. Many agencies also use the grants to develop knowledge in their workforces about how to operate and maintain a new generation of buses.

Among the projects selected to receive 2016 Low-No funding are:

• Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority of California, which will purchase battery electric zero-emission buses and fast-charging stations, upgrade a maintenance facility, and provide workforce training on maintaining new technology buses;

• The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works in Florida, which will receive funding to purchase 40ft (12m) electric buses, which will replace part of a fleet that now has 70% of its traditional buses operating beyond their expected useful life;

• Park City Transit of Utah, which will receive funding to purchase zero-emission buses that will run on a bus rapid transit (BRT) route and provide high-frequency service, connecting major activity areas and giving residents and visitors a viable commuting option, with cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“The Obama administration continues to invest in clean transportation infrastructure, and our Low-No program is putting more American-made, energy-efficient buses into service across the country,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “By placing more modernized, non-polluting buses on the roads, we are improving the rider experience and continuing to extend ladders of opportunity to people who take public transportation every day.”

The FTA’s Acting Administrator, Carolyn Flowers, added, “Our Low-No grant projects represent the latest and greatest bus services running on state-of-the-art technology, resulting in cleaner air and lower costs in the long run. By investing in new technology bus fleets, we help transition an industry that many depend on to a model of green, efficient service.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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