The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that it will make $85 million available in grants through the Low or No (Low-no) Emission Vehicle Program.
In 2015, Congress passed the FAST Act, which authorized major investments, $305 billion, to improve public infrastructure and the efficiency of our country’s transportation sector. The low-no program was included in this law and includes funding for the program through 2020.
In 2018, the FTA awarded almost $85 million in grants to cities and counties across the country to clean up their transportation infrastructure, including electric buses and charging equipment. Funds are available for state and local governments to purchase or lease zero- and low-emission transit buses. They can also use the funding to invest in infrastructure including software programs and the construction of facilities to accommodate the new technology. Last year, Tompkins County in New York State received almost $2.3 million for the purchase of electric transit buses.
We are pleased to see the Low-no Emission Vehicle Program continue, especially because the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in both the U.S. and in New York State.
Investing in electrifying our transit buses is beneficial in multiple ways. Commuters may be encouraged to ride the bus more often and leave their cars at home, and they offer a cleaner option for those who may not be able to afford an electric vehicle.
Electrifying school buses would also be beneficial. Most school buses in New York currently run on diesel fuel. In addition to contributing to climate change, diesel pollution has serious impacts on children’s health. Due to their developing lungs, children are especially vulnerable to the harmful particulate matter contained in diesel pollution. As part of NYLCVEF’s campaign to encourage investment in zero-emission school buses, we released a background paper on electric school buses late last year. We estimate that there would be a reduction of roughly 18 million pounds of nitrogen oxides, 74,000 pounds of particulate matter and 2.9 million short tons of greenhouse gases over 16 years (the average lifetime of a school bus) if diesel school buses in NYC were replaced with all-electric models.
You can learn more by watching this video on the low-no program
We hope towns and counties in New York will apply for these funds to continue moving the needle on cleaner public transit.