Florida awards VW settlement funding: $68 million for electric transit buses, $57 million for school buses

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has awarded $68 million in grants for the purchase of 227 electric transit buses in 13 counties. The funds came from Florida’s $166-million share of Volkswagen’s $15-billion federal settlement for the Dirty Diesel Debacle.

The electric buses will replace existing diesel buses in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas counties. 

Pinellas County’s PSTA, which serves Charged’s home city of St Petersburg, will receive $18 million in funding to purchase 60 buses—the second-largest amount awarded to any transit agency through the state’s Electric Transit Bus Project. (Miami-Dade’s transit agency DTPW will receive $19.8 million to purchase 63 buses.) PSTA currently operates 6 electric buses and 88 hybrid buses.

“We are committed to clean energy, and electric buses also cost less to run and are easier to maintain. Within the next decade, we hope to eliminate all diesel buses from our fleet,” said PSTA CEO Brad Miller.

Hillsborough County’s transit agency, HART, did not submit a proposal to the grant program, but USF Parking & Transportation Services, which is located in Hillsborough, will receive $600,000 to purchase two buses.

Participating public transit agencies must purchase two electric transit buses for each diesel bus replaced. A public transit agency that does not meet this eligibility requirement may still participate, but will receive a pro-rated portion of the award.

The awards in this round of funding:

  • Broward County Transportation Department will receive $7.8 million to secure 26 electric buses.
  • Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) will receive $9 million to secure 30 electric buses.
  • The City of Gainesville Regional Transit System will receive $300,000 to secure four buses.
  • Key West will receive $300,000 to secure one bus.
  • The city of Ocala will receive $300,000 to purchase one bus for SunTran.
  • The city of Tallahassee will receive $5.1 million to purchase 17 buses for StarMetro.
  • The Escambia County Board of County Commission will receive $2.7 million to purchase nine buses.
  • Jacksonville Transportation Authority will receive $1.8 million to purchase six buses.
  • Palm Beach County will receive $1.8 million to purchase six vehicles for PalmTran.
  • Pasco County Public Transportation will receive $600,000 to purchase two buses.
  • Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) will receive $18 million to purchase 60 buses.
  • USF Parking & Transportation Services will receive $600,000 to purchase two buses.

Separately, Florida has announced new investment of $57 million in electric school buses in seven Florida counties through the Electric School Bus Project. This funding will be used to buy 218 electric school buses, which will replace legacy diesel buses in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

Only school districts within an air quality priority area designated in the state’s mitigation plan were eligible for this project. School districts had to provide at least a 25% cost share, and school districts that provided the highest cost share were prioritized.

Sources: Florida DEP, Tampa Bay Times, St Pete Catalyst, Mass Transit

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