The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced approximately $182 million in funding for low- and no-emissions buses and the facilities that support them. The project selections were approved as part of the Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program, which funds the deployment of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and supporting equipment and facilities. A total of 49 projects in 46 states and territories will receive funding through the program.
FTA’s Low-No Program supports transit agencies in purchasing or leasing low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles that use technologies such as battery electric and fuel-cell power to provide cleaner, more efficient transit service in communities across the country.
This year’s funding opportunity prioritized applications with an environmental justice component as well as those that support workforce development.
A few examples of 2021 Low-No grant projects include:
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive nearly $7 million to purchase battery electric buses and charging equipment, upgrade its Southside bus depot and provide workforce training. The electric buses will replace CTA’s oldest diesel buses and reduce greenhouse gases in communities that have experienced air pollution and other environmental health hazards, improving public health and quality of life.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, PA, will receive $5.1 million to purchase electric chargers and make improvements at its East Liberty Garage to support future electric buses as part of its planned bus rapid transit system. By retrofitting the garage to service electric buses, the agency will also lower pollution in the surrounding community.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County in Washoe County, NV, will receive nearly $6.5 million to purchase hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses and construct a hydrogen fueling facility to improve service reliability and air quality for residents in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. The project also supports RTC’s efforts to transition its aging diesel bus fleet to zero emission vehicles to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in an area where ozone levels currently exceed air quality targets.
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Salt River Transit, which provides transit service to Native American communities in and around Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe, AZ, will receive $611,840 to replace diesel-powered transit vehicles that have reached the end of their useful life with battery electric vehicles as well as install charging stations. The community seeks to reduce carbon monoxide pollution to improve air quality and quality of life in their EPA-designated non-attainment area.
Eligible applicants for Low-No funding included public transit agencies, state transportation departments and Indian Tribes. Projects were evaluated based on criteria defined in federal law and in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), including the applicant's demonstration of need, project benefits and implementation strategies, and capacity for completing the project.
The non-profit Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) said that it is partnering on 18 of the projects. Out of the $182 million allocated for this year’s Low-No program, the agencies that CTE supported were awarded more than $72 million for the deployment of zero-emission buses and fueling infrastructure. Together, these awards account for 40% of the total program amount for this fiscal year.
CTE partnered with the following transit agencies on winning FY2021 Low-No Awards:
- Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority
- Broome County (NY)
- Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET)
- Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
- City of Fayetteville (NC)
- City of Fort Collins (CO)
- City of Lawrence / Lawrence Transit
- Connecticut Department of Transportation
- Delaware Transit Corporation
- Golden Empire Transit District
- Hawaii Department of Transportation
- Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
- Metro Transit (Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN)
- Missoula Urban Transportation District
- New Mexico Department of Transportation
- Salem Area Mass Transit District
- Utah Transit Authority
CTE works with transit agencies across the country to provide proposal support, project management, and technical assistance services for zero-emission bus planning and deployment projects. Each year, CTE staff advise transit agencies on effective strategies for developing Low-No grant applications. Once awarded, CTE then guides the projects using a proven methodology that is designed to mitigate risk and ensure successful zero-emission bus deployments.