Vice President Harris Unveils Grants for Clean Public Transport
WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Monday the availability of roughly $1.47 billion in competitive grant funds aimed at transitioning public transportation fleets and facilities to clean energy.
Harris made remarks on the clean transit push during a joint event with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The transition will be funded by leveraging investments from the bipartisan infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan, both of which earmarked funds for clean energy programs.
“These grants will make public transit more reliable and more affordable, which, of course, means shorter waits and more reliable commutes for folks who need to take public transit to get where they need to go,” Harris said during the event. “These buses will be built in America. And these grants will also be used to train drivers and mechanics to operate, maintain and repair this new technology. This investment will create good jobs — jobs of the future.”
The grants are the first Federal Transit Administration competitive grant opportunities to come under the bipartisan infrastructure law, which The Well News previously reported was signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021. The event coincided with the opening of applications for the FTA’s grant programs.
The FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program makes funding available to help transit agencies obtain domestically built public transport vehicles that emit “low or no” emissions. The law provides $5.5 billion over five years for the program. Similarly, the transit administration’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program allocates $2 billion over five years to help transit agencies purchase and retrofit various transit vehicles in addition to building new bus facilities.
“Essential public transit workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic for two years, keeping our economy moving and helping Americans get where they need to go,” Buttigieg said in a written statement. “This additional funding from the American Rescue Plan is helping communities across the country keep transit workers on the job and keep their trains and buses running.”
About $1.1 billion and $372 million in grants will be up for grabs this fiscal year for the low emissions and bus facilities programs, respectively, according to the FTA. Additionally, 5% of each grant under the “low or no” program must be used for workforce development and training as part of the transit administration’s efforts to help transit workers prepare for technological advancements.
Grant applicants are encouraged to provide information on how their proposed project will reinforce the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of federal investment benefits in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. Applications for the grants opened on Monday and will close on May 31.
“Manufacturing thousands of new, American-built buses will create jobs all over our nation, offering cleaner, faster and safer rides as we move toward a better transportation future,” FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said in a written statement. “When transit agencies are applying for these grants, they will propose projects that address climate change, improve air quality, open new opportunities and include workforce training to help workers transition to operating and maintaining these new, clean energy fleets.”
Harris also noted in her remarks that in addition to the grants announced on Monday, the Department of Transportation will also allocate $2.2 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan to 35 transit agencies spread across 18 states. This complementary funding is aimed at helping public transportation agencies cover expenses related to day-to-day operations and retain employees.
Interested parties can find instructions on how to apply for the grants on the FTA website and on grants.gov.
“Our transportation sector has reached a turning point,” Harris said. “We are all in the midst of a turning point. We have the technology to transition to a zero-emission fleet. Our administration — together, all of us — is working to make that possibility a reality.”
Reece can be reached at [email protected]