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MBTA, Cape Cod, and Vineyard Transit Authorities Win Federal Funding for Electric and Lower-Emission Buses

A black bus with the words "ELECTRIC BUS" on its side parks in a parking lot under a white charger, which is supported by a large steel mast arm that's cantilevered over the bus. In the background are some city buildings.

A PVTA electric bus on the Holyoke-Springfield P21E route recharges at Springfield Union Station in this August 2018 photo. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pi.1415926535, licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.

On Tuesday, the Federal Transit Administration announced it would give nearly $60 million to three Massachusetts public transit agencies to help finance new fleets of electric and hybrid-electric buses.

The biggest grant – $40 million – will fund the purchase of 40 new battery-electric buses that will replace older diesel buses and be stationed in the new Quincy Bus Maintenance Facility, which is currently under construction.

The new Quincy garage – the T's first new bus garage in decades – is designed to accommodate a larger fleet of electric buses. It will replace a smaller, 90-year-old garage for diesel buses on the other side of the city.

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority will also receive a $14.6 million grant that will let the agency replace older buses with 13 new hybrid buses.

Cape Cod RTA administrator Tom Cahir told StreetsblogMASS that the agency has an "aggressive" plan to electrify its fleet, but said that many of the agency's routes cover distances that are still too long for purely battery-powered buses to cover without recharging.

The grant will be also provide a major boost to the Cape Cod RTA's capital budget. Under its existing capital budget, the agency had about $29 million available for bus replacements over the next five years. The FTA grant will increase available funding by 50 percent.

A third FTA grant will go to the Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority, which will receive $3.9 million for new electric buses and associated charging equipment.

The grant funds come from the FTA's Low-and No-Emission program, which finances bus purchases, bus garage facility and station upgrades, and supporting equipment like battery-electric charging stations.

The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law authorized $5.6 billion for the Low-No Program through 2026, which is more than ten times the amount of funding the program received during the previous five years.

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