WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to strengthen public transportation and reduce
pollution, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced a new $1.5 million
federal grant to help the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA)
purchase new all-electric buses and associated infrastructure.
The State announced in May that a portion of
Volkswagen settlement funds slated for Rhode Island will be used to introduce
new, zero-emission electric buses into RIPTA’s fleet as it retires older
Reed’s office said that the new federal grant
is being awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal
Transit Administration (FTA) Low or No (Low-No) Emission Bus Program.
Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the
Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development,
and Related Agencies (THUD), fought to include additional federal funding in
the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law to make this grant possible.
“RIPTA is moving toward a cleaner energy
future and replacing older buses with newer, more efficient models. This
federal grant is a smart investment that will help RIPTA curb pollution,
accelerate the transition to a greener fleet, and reduce maintenance costs in
the long run. I am pleased to help deliver these funds to support RIPTA’s
sustainability goals as they continue finding new and innovative ways to
provide safe, clean, flexible transportation opportunities to all Rhode
Islanders,” said Senator Reed, who wrote a letter to FTA Executive
Director Matthew Welbes supporting RIPTA’s grant application.
“This is great news for RIPTA and for the
state,” Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said.
“By securing these additional funds, Senator Reed will allow us to advance our
efforts. These funds, combined with Rhode Island’s Volkswagen Settlement
Funds, are helping RIPTA to lead Rhode Island’s efforts to combat climate change
in the transportation sector.”
RIPTA is starting the introduction of electric
buses into its fleet with a pilot program this fall of three electric buses,
Avedisian said. These vehicles, which are expected to arrive next month,
will enable the transit authority to look at such logistics as the charging
requirements of the vehicles and how they meet RIPTA’s service demands.
The buses will be tested on a variety of routes, with a focus on serving
communities with poor air quality and high asthma rates.
All-electric buses will replace older vehicles
that are being retired. Buses are expected to be acquired and in service
by 2021. RIPTA’s purchase of the clean-energy buses will be an important
step in its Green Fleet Transition Plan, which has been designed to transition
the RIPTA fleet to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) buses. The investment in
electric buses also supports the state's greenhouse gas emissions reduction
plan goals relating to vehicle miles traveled and electric vehicles.