U.S. Issuing $1.66 Billion in Grants for Zero-Emission Buses


On Tuesday, The Department of Transportation announced that it was prepping $1.66 billion in grants so that cities can purchase zero-emission buses. Headed by the Federal Transit Administration, the program is aimed at getting 1,800 new vehicles into metropolitan areas – which the White House claimed would effectively double the number of electrified buses currently in operation. Though a portion of the funds will be earmarked for buying up public transportation reliant on hybrid-electric, natural gas, and diesel powertrains.

The money stems from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Joe Biden signed in November of 2021 – which included numerous provisions that certain investments prioritize concepts like equity, public safety, and the always popular “climate change mitigation.” All are said to come together here since the money is supposed to go primarily to cities that saw public transit use plummet during the government-endorsed lockdowns witnessed throughout the pandemic.

“These grants are going to be used in every corner of this country,” White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the nation’s largest and most used public transit system, will receive $116 million to buy about 230 electric buses to replace older diesel ones. This will reportedly make roughly 4 percent of its 5,800-bus fleet electric.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive $104.1 million to procure roughly 160 electric buses. Those will be replacing compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will be issued $116 million in grants to swap out 85 diesel people movers for new electric models. Most other municipalities will see far less financial help, sometimes just enough for a single bus. Though several cities are getting special grants to upgrade bus terminals or maintenance facilities. The same goes for select tribal reservations with little-to-no transit infrastructure to speak of.

But most places that applied for the grants will receive nothing. The Federal Transit Administration reported that it had received over 500 grant applications totaling nearly $8 billion. However, only 150 of those were approved.

That could change in the future, as the infrastructure law provides $5.5 billion over five years for federal bus grants. That’s six times the funding witnessed prior to the Biden administration’s sweeping infrastructure bill and allocates $2 billion for maintaining/upgrading older buses, bus stations, and maintenance facilities. But it’s still going to be years before any major city is running EV-dominated fleets.

[Image: Steve Sanchez Photos/Shutterstock]

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