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King County Metro to purchase 30 electric buses with $33.5M in federal funds

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(The Center Square) – King County is planning to add to its growing fleet of zero-emission buses with the help of $33.5 million in federal funding.

The department said it would purchase 30 battery-electric buses with the $33.5 million. This means each individual battery-electric bus will cost approximately $1.1 million.

The county established a goal to have its entire bus fleet produce zero emissions by 2035. Metro previously said it expects to purchase 120 more battery-electric buses in 2024.

The 2023-2024 King County budget dedicates $180.5 million for the 120 buses, as well as $1 million to build a charging station at the Metro’s South Base and $26.5 million for a charging station at the interim base to support the 120 planned battery-electric buses.

The new federal funds will also expand Metro’s apprenticeship program to promote transit careers in underserved communities. This comes amidst a bus operator shortage in which the department has 2,148 operators as of the end of May. That is 60 off of the department’s month end goal.

“This funding supports our work to advance equity and social justice by prioritizing service areas for these new electric buses in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by pollution generated by fossil fuels and invests in our future workforce by eliminating barriers to opportunity in transit sector green jobs and apprenticeships programs,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.

The $33.5 million stems from the Federal Transit Administration’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities and Low- and No-Emission Vehicle programs.

The Buses and Bus Facilities program provides funding for transit agencies to purchase and rehabilitate buses and vans and modernize bus facilities.

The Federal Transit Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. On June 26, including the awarded grant for King County Metro, the department announced 130 awards totaling nearly $1.7 billion from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law for transit projects in 46 states and territories.

The transportation department expects more than 1,700 American-built buses to be built with the funds, with nearly half being zero-emission models, bringing the total number of zero-emission transit buses funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law over two years to over 1,800.

“[The announcement] means more clean buses, less pollution, more jobs in manufacturing and maintenance, and better commutes for families across the country,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

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