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Agency will use funds for purchase of new buses, vital bus facility upgrades and workforce development
Today the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) was awarded nearly $29 million in grant funds by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to be used towards the purchase of fully accessible, all-electric buses, as well as bus facility communication and safety improvements to accommodate the new vehicles. Today’s announcement marks the first major federal funding the CTA has received since unveiling its “Charging Forward Plan” earlier this year and is the latest step towards its commitment of converting to an electrified bus fleet by 2040.
"It's vital that the CTA system be sustainable, affordable, and efficient for both our residents and our environment," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "With this grant funding, not only are we taking steps to protect our environment, but we are leading the way for other municipalities. I'm pleased to see this award bring us one step closer to a climate resilient Chicago."
Building upon a decade of leading an industry shift toward bus electrification, the CTA unveiled “Charging Forward: CTA Bus Electrification Planning Report” in February 2022 as a blueprint for the agency’s route to a full electric bus fleet and bus operational infrastructure over the next 18 years. Converting a bus fleet of more than 1,800 vehicles is a complex undertaking and will require new buses as well as charging station infrastructure and significant electrical power upgrades.
“These funds, which were not originally anticipated as part of our ‘Charging Forward’ plan, will allow us to accelerate the expansion of our all-electric bus fleet, further highlighting the CTA’s commitment to deploying the cleanest and most energy efficient U.S.-made transit buses,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “This is the latest in our ongoing mission to deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities – for today, as well as for the future of Chicago.”
A portion of the grant funds, $3.4 million, will be used to purchase 10 electric buses. The CTA is committed to replacing its older diesel buses currently in service with battery-powered, zero-emission, all-electric buses.
The bulk of the funds awarded today, approximately $13.2 million, will go towards upgrading the Chicago Avenue Garage located in Humboldt Park, which was identified as the first location to be fully modernized.
Routes operating out of the Chicago Avenue Garage serve an area that is 93% minority with 86% low income, which means CTA’s bus electrification efforts will bring significant environmental benefits to minority and low-income areas of Chicago where air quality is often worse and there are larger populations with health-related vulnerabilities.
The remaining portion of the grant funds, approximately $1.1 million, will be used for workforce development to help train CTA employees on how to maintain and operate the agency’s growing electric fleet.
Currently, there are more than 20 electric buses in the fleet that are operating along the #66 Chicago route, connecting the Austin neighborhood to the near West Side and Navy Pier.
CTA aims to prioritize routes serving South and West side neighborhoods historically overburdened by air quality issues for early equitable electric bus deployment and aims to electrify routes serving the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line terminal in the next few years.
The grant funds are sourced through the FTA’s 2022 Low or No Emission and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program, which is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Over the next five years, the BIL will provide $5.5 billion for the Low- and No-Emission Program, which CTA will continue to pursue to further advance its fleet electrification plans.
For more information, or to view the Charging Forward: CTA Bus Electrification Planning Report, please visit: transitchicago.com/electricbus/.