50 electric buses coming to local transit agencies; $13.3M from VW settlement used to reduce diesel pollution

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019 11:20am
  • Business

The number of electric buses rolling through Washington communities will more than double in the months ahead as the Washington Department of Ecology invests $13.3 million to help local transit agencies buy 50 zero-emission, battery-powered electric buses.

Ecology officials announced the additions in a new release Wednesday.

“This is a transformational investment in our clean energy future and continues to push Washington toward zero-emission transportation technology,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Getting 50 more all-electric buses on the road is a big step forward, and it will pay off in better air quality across our state.”

Transit agencies in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Clark, Benton and Spokane counties will receive up to $300,000 per bus from Washington’s $112.7 million share of the federal Volkswagen settlement. The grants are intended to help cover the additional costs of purchasing an electric bus, compared to a conventional diesel bus. Transit agencies can also use some of the funding to pay for charging stations.

Heavy-duty diesel engines in buses and trucks account for about a third of all diesel emissions in Washington. Replacing these 50 buses will eliminate 68,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 tons over the lifetime of the vehicles.

“Big diesel engines are some of the largest sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases in our state, and investing in zero-emission alternatives is essential for improving air quality and protecting Washington communities,” said Maia Bellon, Ecology’s director.

The 50 buses supported by the federal Volkswagen settlement follow a $9.4 million investment announced in December that is helping transit agencies buy 19 electric transit buses. That funding came from Washington state’s separate $28.4 million settlement with Volkswagen for the carmaker’s violations of state law.

Both the state and federal settlements stem from the discovery that Volkswagen illegally installed software on its diesel cars that activated emission controls only when it detected the emissions were being tested. In ordinary driving, the software allowed the engines to emit as much as 40 times the legal limit for nitrogen oxides, violating the state and federal Clean Air Acts and threatening public health.

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