The US government wants to provide 73 billion dollars to electrify public transit buses, delivery trucks and other vehicles in the country. In total, the ‘Clean Transit For America Plan’ calls for replacing more than 155,000 commercial vehicles, from buses to vans.
In detail, the plan now unveiled by US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sherrod Brown, Senate member for the state of Ohio, envisions replacing 70,000 public transit buses and 85,000 vans and so-called cutaway vehicles (chassis with driver’s cabs) with electric vehicles. At present, only about two per cent of those buses in the fleet are zero-emission vehicles.
Assuming an average cost of a battery-electric bus between $850,000 and $900,000, and hydrogen fuel cell buses average $1 million per bus or more, the US government reckons funding under Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) transit program outlined here will increase funding to the Low-No bus program. The new draft considers the latter a good example of a federal-state-local partnership but found it underfunded. The support for electrification would help transit agencies, in the long run, to provide more frequent, high-quality transit services, the lawmakers assume.
Apart from funding the above vehicle procurement, part of the $73 billion will go toward the installation of charging infrastructure. Areas with the worst air quality are to be prioritized. As with other schemes, procurers must adhere to the ‘Buy America’ directive. A total of $560 million are reserved for retraining programmes.
With this, the new proposal explicitly wants to tap into the jobs creation plan, a proposal to pump at least 150 billion dollars into the electrification of public transport within ten years through the Build Green Infrastructure and Jobs Act. Says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet and protect public health, particularly in our country’s most vulnerable communities. That is why I am working to make sure this proposal is part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”
Initiators Senators Schumer and Brown must now build support and introduce the Clean Transit proposal in the Senate and House. From there, it is a way through Committees before the bill may eventually be put in front of the full chamber to vote.
The Clean Transit For America Plan is also in line with a range of announcement concerning cleaner transportation. President Joe Biden started his term by issuing an Executive Order aiming to put climate change on top of the agenda. Announced at the end of January, it included that all of the government’s approximately 645,000 vehicles nationwide would be replaced by electric vehicles and that they would undertake a supply chain analysis for battery resources.
The Democrats have since followed up with the ‘CLEAN Future Act’ to achieve an emission-free economy by 2050 through measures in all sectors. For the transport sector, the bill envisages significant investments in electrification, as reported in March.