December 7, 2022

Feds send money to Florida for ‘clean' buses

The federal government is routing nearly $42 million to Florida as part of a $1.66 billion effort to increase the number of “clean” buses on U.S. roads.

Grants will go to the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Lee County and the state for low- and no-emission buses, equipment and worker training, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.

“As we modernize our transportation systems to help all of America get where they need to go, we also have to not only make it safer and less costly, but we're going to try to use it to reduce emissions,” said Mitch Landrieu, a White House adviser who is overseeing the implementation of a massive infrastructure law passed in November.

Landrieu, during a conference call Monday with reporters, said the money is “another pivotal step towards the president's goal of a net zero emissions America by 2050.”

Money will go to 150 bus fleets and facilities across the country. It is intended, in part, to bring 1,100 additional zero-emission buses to 48 states and territories--- there are currently about 1,300 on the road.

A big chunk of the money heading to Florida will help the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority LYNX system, which handles 90,000 passengers a day in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Volusia counties.

The authority will get $16.1 million, in part to purchase up to 20 battery-electric buses. LYNX is working to get half its fixed-route fleet to zero-emission by 2028, according to authority paperwork.

LYNX also will be able to replace up to 10 diesel buses with compressed natural-gas vehicles through a $6.5 million grant received on its behalf by the Florida Department of Transportation.

In a joint news release with fellow Democratic U.S. House members Val Demings and Darren Soto, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said Central Florida is one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions and one of the most susceptible to the consequences of climate change.

“These funds will help reduce our carbon footprint while delivering world-class infrastructure that will help boost long-term economic growth,” Murphy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville will receive $15.4 million for up to 21 compressed natural-gas buses and charging equipment that will be used for six battery-electric buses, replacing older diesel buses. Also, Lee County will receive $3.86 million to buy up to three battery-electric buses.

In all, the federal government received 530 applications seeking more than $7 billion.

During an appearance Sunday in Arizona, Gov. Ron DeSantis accused President Joe Biden of waging “a war against American energy.

"His view is, he doesn't want a robust oil and gas sector here,” DeSantis said. “But he's willing to go beg the Saudis or Venezuela. I guess our oil is global warming, but their oil is not. I mean, give me a break.”

Florida legislators in 2020 directed the state Department of Transportation to develop a plan to encourage expansion of electric-vehicle charging stations along the highway system.

The state later designated $8.6 million to add 34 fast-charging stations along Interstate 95, Interstate 4, Interstate 75, Interstate 275 and Interstate 295 as part of money Florida received in a settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Department of Justice over emissions violations.

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