Florida releases $125 m in VW fines to buy electric buses
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding $68 million to purchase 227 electric public transit buses to replace diesel buses in 13 counties across the state. There are further grants given to school districts.
The DEP wants to support the districts in purchasing 218 electric school buses. The funding of $57 million comes from a total of $166 million allocated to Florida from Volkswagen’s fines over the diesel scandal.
The Volkswagen settlement will also secure said 227 electric transit buses through the ‘Electric Transit Bus Grant program. Public transit agencies participating in this program must purchase two electric transit buses for each bus replaced.
The DEP lists Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, and Pinellas counties as beneficiaries. Miami-Dade will receive the most significant chunk ($19,800,000) to buy 63 electric buses. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PTSA) follows right after with 60 buses funded with $18 million. Other purchases run from 30 over 17 to one-digit units. Pasco County Public Transportation, for example, will receive $600,000 to purchase two new electric buses.
As for the 218 electric school buses, these will bring pupils to school in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Broward County will get the most e-buses (60) and will receive nearly $16 million in funding.
Only school districts within an air quality priority area were eligible and had to provide at least a 25% cost share in a competitive process. The DEP also required districts to use state-approved vendors but left these undisclosed in today’s announcement.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the funding was “a win-win” for air quality and the state’s efforts to bolster electric vehicle usage.
Florida also allocated funds from this budget to install 150 electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways.
There are also projects focusing on ports. These include marine engine replacements, an electric freight switch, and port cargo handling equipment.
All these projects are based on the DEP’s Florida Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, created to outline how the state would spend its allotted $166 million from the Volkswagen settlement.