State Gets $7 Million In Federal Stimulus Money For New Buses
September 22, 2009
HARTFORD — - A new $7 million stimulus grant will help buy fuel-efficient, low-pollution transit buses to run routes in Hartford, Stamford and New Haven next year, federal officials said Monday.
The money will help buy hybrid buses to replace aging CT Transit diesel models, and will also pay for fuel cells to generate power in the Stamford and New Haven bus depots.
Throughout the country Monday, federal officials announced about $100 million in federal transit grants for greenhouse gas and energy reduction initiatives. Connecticut landed $7 million of that total, Sen. Christopher Dodd said in a conference call with reporters.
"By getting these dollars back to our communities, we can have cleaner energy and reduced operating costs," Dodd said.
"What we liked about this [proposal] is that it had the purchase of hybrid electric buses and the fuel cell component to lower energy consumption," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "Hybrids are 40 percent more fuel-efficient than diesel and produce 30 percent less carbon dioxide. They're a much cleaner technology."
Dodd added that the grants should help CT Transit and other transit operations during the recession.
"They're all struggling as everyone is with higher costs — 90 percent of them are raising rates or cutting services or both," said Dodd, who co-sponsored the "green transit" funding legislation with Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
Earlier this year, the state Department of Transportation received about $70 million in stimulus money to upgrade an order for 136 new buses. It will use about half of the $7 million announced Monday to upgrade bus orders from diesels to hybrids, agency spokesman Judd Everhart said. Hybrids are more expensive to buy, but cost less to run and generate substantially less pollution than conventional buses. The new buses should be on the road next fall, Everhart said.
Competition for the new grants was stiff.
"In all, there were 561 projects that sought more than $2 billion," Dodd said.
"With this funding, Connecticut will boost its economy and continue to be a national leader in the creation of green jobs and the utilization of clean-energy technology," said U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District.
Dodd noted that Connecticut has fuel cell manufacturers in Torrington and South Windsor, so some of the money will be spent in the state, Rogoff said.
Currently, Connecticut has two hybrid buses and one fuel cell bus. Larson said that the agency will have four more fuel cell buses in its fleet by next year.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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