The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $22.5 million (FTA-2015-006-TRI) through the latest round of the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo).
The LoNo Program is a capital program focused on deploying new low- or no-emission production buses that are market-ready or near market-ready; i.e., it is not a program for designing and developing prototypes. The program gives priority consideration to the deployment of buses with the lowest energy consumption and least harmful emissions. The previous round of LoNo funding, announced in February 2015, awarded $55 million in grants to ten organizations nationwide. (Earlier post.)
For the solicitation:
A zero-emission transit bus is defined as a bus that produces no direct carbon emissions and no particulate matter emissions under any and all possible operational modes and conditions. Hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric buses qualify as zero-emission.
A low emission bus is defined as any transit bus that is powered by an engine that produces lower non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and NOx than are legally permitted under EPA’s engine standards.
All transit buses proposed for deployment under the LoNo Program must complete current FTA bus testing for production transit buses.
FTA will award the LoNo funds on a competitive basis to transit agencies and state transportation departments working either independently or jointly with bus manufacturers already making low- and zero-emission buses. Priority will be given to proposals that, among other criteria:
Use tested bus models with proven effectiveness, especially zero-emission models;
Exhibit strong transit agency and community commitment, including technical and project management skills; and
Demonstrate understanding of and accommodation for public safety.
In addition, all LoNo procurements will have to follow FTA Buy America regulations and undergo Bus Testing at FTA’s facility in Altoona, Pa.
Of the $22.5 million available in LoNo grant funds, a minimum of $3.0 million is available to support facilities and related equipment. Transit agencies may also use a portion of their annual FTA formula funds to purchase additional vehicles.
The FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The LoNo program builds on the FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which invested in the research, development and testing of alternative fuels and related equipment for the transit industry.
In addition to their environmental benefits, LoNo transit buses will, in the long run, help transit agencies save money on fuel and maintenance costs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, zero-emission buses can achieve up to 87% greater fuel economy compared to buses running on diesel and other fuels.