The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced in May its three awardees of the Transit and Shuttle Bus Grant Program. The total award amount among the three entities equals approximately $5.7 million and will fund electric transit systems in Tennessee.

According to a TDEC news release, this grant program is the second one to be funded by the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust. The trust was set up with the purpose of funding projects that will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in Tennessee.

Two of the grants will go to the Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority and the Memphis Area Transit Authority. These two cities will replace old diesel buses with new, electric buses and accompanying charging stations and infrastructure. The other grant will go towards the City of Knoxville/Knoxville Area Transit to support replacing diesel buses with diesel-hybrid buses. Over the next several years, Knoxville Area Transit will also be introducing electric buses in an agreement with the company New Flyer of America.

“These grants will allow us to provide energy-efficient buses for transit systems in three of our largest communities, where mass transit is a key service,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “These grants meet a need and meet the spirit of the settlement.”

According to a study performed by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group, while diesel buses may be cheaper to purchase initially, electric buses save money, an estimated $400,000, over the lifetime of the vehicle.

In total, nine diesel buses from 2009 and older will be decommissioned in order to make room for newer, emissions friendly buses. In fact, between the six electric and three diesel-hybrid buses, TDEC expects the project will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 8.51 tons while the vehicles are working.

“These grants will support the adoption of all-electric and diesel-hybrid buses, so they will have a significant environmental impact,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “This will help reduce emissions and enhance the quality of life in these communities.”

The next phase of the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan will be released soon. This phase will focus on Class 4-7 local freight trucks with approximately $4.5 million allocated from the VW Settlement EMT.

Check back here soon for a webinar with more detailed information about the release from East Tennessee Clean Fuels.


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