Pinellas transit authority lands $27.8M in federal funds for electric, hybrid buses
Image via PSTA

'Obviously, we’re looking to tackle climate change and looking for ways that we can replace those older fleets with newer, cleaner fleets.'

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration has awarded the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) $27.8 million to purchase 12 electric or hybrid buses and 12 depot chargers and/or necessary equipment, the federal agency announced.

The award is part of $1.5 billion in federal funding to support 117 transit projects in 47 states through the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- and No-Emission Grant program. The funding is part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which has led to nearly $5 billion in awards over the past three years to replace and modernize buses.

It’s the first award through the program that PSTA has received, according to USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg, who led a press call spotlighting the Pinellas County award.

Trottenberg noted the new funds can also be used for workforce development, “to ensure that your transit workforce can maintain and operate these buses.”

“It’s going to be replacing a lot of older diesel buses that the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has in its inventory,” she said Tuesday. “The new buses will be cleaner, and they will be quieter and hopefully have longer running times and be safer as well.”

Replacing older, dirtier diesel buses is a priority for the Biden administration, Trottenberg said.

“Obviously, we’re looking to tackle climate change and looking for ways that we can replace those older fleets with newer, cleaner fleets, which also again, (can) be much better operationally, break down less often, be a quieter, cleaner ride as well,” she said.

About 80% of the buses funded through the federal program will run on zero or low emission technology, according to USDOT. Such technology reduces air pollution and helps meet the Biden administration’s goal of zero emissions by 2050 and to advance Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which prioritizes 40% of overall benefits from certain federal investments in climate, clean energy and clean transportation for disadvantaged, marginalized or under-invested communities.

Trottenberg said PSTA and its CEO, Brad Miller, “did a wonderful job in applying for this grant,” noting the agency received about $9 billion in requests.

“So it was very competitive. You had one of the best applications,” she said, adding that the application showed good financial commitment and solid implementation strategy.

Trottenberg also praised PSTA for its new Sunrunner bus rapid transit route.

“I think you all are really leaning into that next generation of transit investments and we’re really excited to partner with you all and support you,” she said.

PSTA’s award was one of seven in Florida and was the largest in the state.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • rbruce

    July 9, 2024 at 2:58 pm

    Why are people outside Pinellas County paying for our buses? Residents of 49 other states should not be forced to spend money on a service they will never use, unless they are on vacation. What federal interest is involved?


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