UPPER MARLBORO — County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, along with Congressmen Steny Hoyer (MD-05) and Anthony Brown (MD-04), announced that Prince George’s County has received $2.2 million in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Low or No Emission Bus Program on July 23.
With the new funding, the county will be able to purchase electric buses and chargers with the hope of making the county bus systems more efficient as well as making the system more sustainable and eco-friendly.
“We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Prince George’s County with this grant to expand electric bus service in our communities,” said Hoyer, Brown and Alsobrooks in a joint statement. “These new vehicles will replace older and less efficient models, serving thousands of residents in the county.”
The county will be able to purchase four new buses with the grant funding, according to Alsobrooks’ Deputy Communications Director Gina Ford. The county will obligate the grant funds within 12 months from the notice of award. The buses will be purchased during fiscal year 2020 and are expected to be received sometime in FY2021.
“The timeframe for receiving the buses is 12 to 18 months once the order is placed,” Ford said. “This is a reimbursable grant; we won’t expend the funds until the buses are delivered; the projected date in the grant application is 2022 to have received the buses and have them in service.”
Prince George’s County was one of 38 projects in 38 states to receive funding which ranged from $280,000 to $3 million. Other recipients included the District of Columbia Department of Transportation and the Delaware Transit Corporation.
This is the first year that Prince George’s County was a recipient of the grant and the second year that a county from Maryland was awarded. Montgomery County was a recipient in 2017 when they were given $1.75 million to buy Proterra 35’ E2 battery-electric buses and depot chargers to replace diesel buses. They were the first zero-emission buses in that county and were a component of green and sustainable initiatives underway in the county.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration runs the Low Or No Emission Vehicle Program to allow states to make their transportation systems more environmentally sustainable.
They provide funding to state and local government authorities to purchase or lease zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as the acquisition, construction and leasing of required supporting facilities, such as chargers.
A total of $55 million per year is available until fiscal year 2020. Over the years that the program has been administered, funding has grown steadily starting with $22.5 million in 2015 to a total of $84.9 million in 2019.
“These grants will help communities nationwide bring the next generation of bus technology to enhance their transportation systems,” said Federal Transit Administration Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Additionally, there are a limited number of ways that a government agency can use the funding from the Low Or No Emission program in addition to the purchase or leasing of low-or-no emission vehicles.
These include the construction or leasing facilities and related equipment, constructing new public transportation facilities to accommodate low- or no-emission buses and rehabilitating or improving existing public transportation facilities to accommodate low- or no-emission buses.
“The electric buses will cut emissions and improve our air quality, reduce energy consumption and begin to put the transit system in the county on a more sustainable path,” Alsobrooks and the congressmen continued. “We look forward to the implementation of these new buses, which will improve the reliability of our transit system for commuters and families in our area and will deliver clean transportation to Prince George’s County.”
This is only one of the initiatives Prince George’s County has taken on to improve bus service this year. At the end of May, the Department of Public Works and Transportation unveiled a new fleet of buses.
They rolled out six new buses as the beginning of upgrades to the county’s aging TheBus system. The new buses, equipped with ADA compliant wheelchair ramps, are designed to meet the demands of transit and shuttle routes.