The US Department of Transportation is awarding grants totalling $182 million (the equivalent of about 152 million euros) to procure electrified buses and related infrastructure. The money will go to 49 transit agency projects in 46 states and territories.
The US Department of Transportation’s listing shows that most of these projects have stipulated zero-emission buses – either battery-electric (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) vehicles. Only one of the 49 projects supports the procurement of hybrid buses. The electrified bus funding pot is the first manifestation of the Biden administration’s electric mobility policy. At this point, a lot of projects to push electric mobility are still in the planning or legislative process. Foremost among these is the President’s infrastructure package, which last week saw a breakthrough in tough negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.
Project selection for electrified bus funding under the Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program was based on those criteria defined in federal law and the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Particular attention has been paid to the factors of environmental justice (the differential environmental impact of different social or ethnic groups and the places where they live) and job creation. Public transit agencies, state transportation departments and Indian Tribes were eligible to apply.
“There is overwhelming demand to support low and no emission transit all around the country – in both rural and urban areas – and meeting this need is a matter of climate responsibility and public health,” notes US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. His department does not list how many electrified buses will be purchased with the funding in the various projects, only the amount of each grant. For example, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive nearly $7 million “to purchase battery-electric buses and chargers, upgrade its Southside bus depot, and provide employee training.”
Other funding examples include the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, which will receive $5.1 million to purchase charging equipment and upgrade its East Liberty Garage to accommodate future electric buses as part of its planned Bus Rapid Transit system. Or the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which provides transit service to Native American communities in and around Scottsdale, Arizona, receiving $611,840 to replace diesel-powered transit vehicles with battery-powered electric vehicles and install charging stations.
There has been a lot of activity on the zero-emission bus market in the USA in the last six months. This has triggered some big deals among commercial vehicle and infrastructure manufacturers and suppliers specializing in BEV and FCEV.
In early May, the US government revealed ‘Clean Transit For America Plan’ to provide 73 billion dollars to electrify public transit buses, delivery trucks and other vehicles across the USA. The plan calls for replacing more than 155,000 commercial vehicles, from buses to vans.
In February, a number of US districts in Maryland and California invested in their zero-emission school bus fleets and infrastructures. This saw, for example, an initiative for the electric conversion of buses in the Maryland county of Montgomery, that marked the largest single electric school bus procurement in the USA so far.