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U.S. grant awards $1.66 billion for low-emissions buses

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Transportation Department said on Tuesday it is awarding $1.66 billion in grants to cities and states to buy 1,800 buses in a shift to cleaner, lower-emission travel.

The grants will fund 1,100 zero-emission buses, which will nearly double the existing 1,300 zero-emission transit buses, the White House said.

The funding for 150 bus fleets from the $1 trillion 2021 infrastructure law will help cities and states retire older polluting buses.

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The funding will also buy 700 buses, which include hybrid-electric, natural gas and diesel models. “These grants are going to be used in every corner of this country,” White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu told reporters.

Buses accounted for about half of the 10 billion U.S. transit trips Americans took in 2019. But there are still few green buses — just 18% of the 72,000 U.S. transit buses were hybrid electric in 2020, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Public transit suffered through COVID-19 as tens of millions of Americans worked from home and curbed business and tourism travel, but systems are reporting increasing use as Americans return to offices and travel.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the busiest U.S transit system, will receive $116 million to buy about 230 electric buses to replace older diesel ones, electrifying nearly 4% percent of its 5,800-bus fleet.

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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will receive $104.1 million to acquire about 160 electric buses to replace older compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, while the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will get $116 million to buy up to 85 EV buses to replace diesel models.

The infrastructure law provides $5.5 billion over five years for bus grants, six times prior funding levels and $2 billion for buying and rehabilitating buses and building bus maintenance facilities.

Memphis will receive $54 million to build an operations/ maintenance facility, while New Jersey Transit will get $44.6 million to renovate its Union City garage near New York and create a public bus terminal.

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