Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $3.5 Million in Grant Funding for Salem Area Mass Transit District

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that the Salem Area Mass Transit District will receive over $3.5 million in grant funding for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses and the leasing, construction, and acquisition of necessary supporting facilities.

“Now is the time to make the investments our communities need to build a foundation for the healthy, economically stable future families across Oregon deserve,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that this funding will help the Salem Area Mass Transit District reduce pollution as they continue to deliver vital services to their community—services that have supported essential commutes, and helped Oregonians reach grocery stores and pharmacies during this pandemic. I’m going to keep fighting for the funding our transit districts need to keep up their important work while also reducing their emissions.”

“Public transportation keeps communities running. This $3.5 million investment in low- to zero-emission transit will not only get Oregonians in Salem where they need to go, but also reduce emissions along the way,” Wyden said. “I’m proud of the work the folks of the Salem Area Mass Transit District continue to do to provide Oregonians reliable service, especially during these uncertain times.”

“By replacing our oldest vehicles with our first battery-electric buses, this grant is a monumental step toward enhanced service and modernization of our vehicle fleet. With these funds, we will be able to create an ‘Electric Bus Corridor’ along our longest route to bolster service reliability and improve access to many of our most frequent destinations, while also reducing our carbon footprint. I would like to thank Senator Merkley for his support in securing the funding to make this project a reality,” said Ian Davidson, President, Board of Directors, Salem Area Mass Transit District.

Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles benefits both the economy and public health. According to a 2016 report issued by the American Lung Association, transitioning to zero-emission vehicles would deliver $33 billion in total health and climate savings by 2050. The 90% reduction in the pollution that causes smog and soot would translate to 195,000 fewer lost work days, 96,000 fewer asthma attacks, and 2,200 fewer premature deaths.

Senator Merkley has been a consistent advocate for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and authored the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act in 2018 to set a comprehensive federal ZEV standard and require that 50% of all new car sales in America be ZEVs by 2030—before a full transition to 100% emission-free vehicles by 2040.