OR: Lane Transit District receives nearly $4 million in federal grants for zero-emission buses

Federal funds will soon help drive Lane Transit District to an electric future. 

The $3,952,851 in federal grants will support bus upgrades, specifically five new electric buses, said LTD spokesperson Pat Walsh.

LTD already ordered 11 new buses, which will be delivered by the first quarter of next year. Before they are in operation, the buses must be tested. The additional buses provided by the new funding will be ordered in the fall. The district plans to have a total of 25 electric buses replace old diesel vehicles by 2023, which would make up a quarter of the total fleet. Each electric bus reduces emissions by up to 93%, said Kelly Hoell, LTD’s sustainability program manager.

LTD Board of Directors voted unanimously in June to adopt a climate action policy that would reduce LTD’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75% over the next 10 years and eliminates the district’s use of fossil fuels in 15 years. The federal funding will help LTD move toward these goals.

Given the environmental impact, the use of electric buses is a good move in the Lane County area, Hoell said.

“We are situated well to take advantage of electric technology because we have very low-carbon electricity and we have very low-cost electricity in comparison to other parts of the country,” Hoell said.

Municipally owned utilities in this part of Oregon have access to Bonneville Power Administration hydropower, energy that comes from the Bonneville Dam.

“The impact of switching to electric really does vary by location,” Hoell said.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced the funding Tuesday in a news release, which included that Rogue Valley Transportation, in the Jackson County area, also will receive $2,687,000.

“I’m glad these federal resources are heading to these mass transit districts and the people working hard to keep them running,” Wyden said in the release.

“I will keep battling to make sure public transportation throughout Oregon continues moving toward using the most energy-efficient and cost-effective vehicles.”

Contact reporter Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at Tatiana@registerguard.com or 541-338-2454, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.