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Purchases of electric and hydrogen-powered buses are among the projects eligible for a new round of federal grants.
States, local governments and tribes can now apply for nearly $1.7 billion in federal funding through a pair of grant programs geared toward transitioning the nation's bus fleets to cleaner fuels, like electric or hydrogen power.
The money, available under the 2021 infrastructure law, includes $1.2 billion this fiscal year for the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, which covers purchases or leases of buses that cause less air pollution than models that run on fuels like diesel. Grants from that program can also fund the construction or lease of facilities and equipment to support the new vehicles.
In addition to battery and hydrogen-powered buses, rubber-tired trollies with power from overhead electric wires are eligible for funding, as well as other options that can meet federal requirements.
The other grant initiative, the Buses and Bus Facilities Program, makes about $469 million available to replace, rehab, or buy buses "regardless of propulsion type or emissions." That money can also help pay for bus-related facilities.
The funding notice for the grants, published on Jan. 27, explains that 5% of the total requested federal funding for projects related to zero-emission vehicles must go toward workforce development and retraining programs—although applicants can try to convince the feds to let them out of this requirement.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the programs would help "cut harmful pollution, and train workers for good-paying jobs."
The infrastructure law provided $5.5 billion over five years for the Low or No Emission Program, more than six times the prior five-year amount Congress approved for it. Funding for the Buses and Bus Facilities program is set to total almost $2 billion over five years.
The Federal Transit Administration issued grants from the programs last year as well. Examples of winning projects include $116 million for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to purchase about 230 electric buses to replace diesel vehicles and $34 million for a rural transit agency in Colorado to build a depot for charging and storing electric buses.
Applications are due for the grants by April 13. More information can be found here.
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