Obama admin wants more green buses on the road

The continued expansion of zero-emissions buses across the United States got a boost from the federal government earlier this month when the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced close to $25 million in funding towards the effort.

The money will be made available to communities nationwide, some of which may partner with bus manufacturers on proposals, on a competitive basis.

FTA officials said its Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo), established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, will be the source of the funding. It aims towards “commercializing the cleanest and most energy-efficient U.S.-made transit buses to help reduce emissions like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.” The funds being offered up will awarded under select criteria, including a consideration for those proposals incorporating the “highest level of U.S.-made content.”

image via MTA

“The LoNo program will make a real difference in people’s lives by helping them get to work or school while letting them breathe clean air,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “We are proud to initiate a new program that reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to reducing our nation’s dependence on oil while developing more sustainable sources of energy here at home.”

Greening mass transit has been a goal of the FTA for some time now. A previous example of this was the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which invested in the research, development and testing of alternative fuels and related equipment, such as electric charging stations, for the transit industry. This program successfully committed $90 million over seven years for innovative research, demonstration, and deployment projects to reduce the cost of fuel cells for transit use.

In the push for no emissions buses, a few benefits are seen as being possible. One is the obvious reduction in carbon emissions. The other is, in the long run, helping transit agencies save money on fuel and maintenance costs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, zero-emission buses can achieve more than double the fuel economy of buses running on diesel and other fuels.

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling