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Business Observer Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022 2 months ago

Transit authority receives $18M state grant to buy more electric buses

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection funds are from the federal government’s Volkswagen settlement.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has been awarded an $18 million grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that will be used to purchase 60 electric buses over the next five years.

The funds, according to a news release, are derived from the U.S. government’s settlement with German automaker Volkswagen, which was accused of violating the Clean Air Act. The money represents the second-largest amount ever given to a transit agency in Florida, and it will help bolster PSTA’s fleet of electric buses, which includes six all-electric buses and 88 hybrid buses.

"We appreciate that the Department of Environmental Protection has recognized PSTA as a leader in sustainability and that the state is investing in our efforts to get more all-electric buses on the road as soon as possible," PSTA CEO Brad Miller states in the release. "We are committed to clean energy, and electric buses also cost less to run and are easier to maintain. Within the next decade, we hope to eliminate all diesel buses from our fleet."

In 2017, Volkswagen settled federal claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by selling diesel vehicles that violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mobile source emission standards. Florida received a total of $166 million as part of the settlement.

"I thank DEP for contributing to our efforts to move toward an all-electric fleet as soon as possible," PSTA board chair and Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard states in the release. "This money will help us achieve our goal faster, and it reaffirms PSTA is on the right path with its unwavering commitment to clean energy and sustainability."

PSTA, the release states, provides more than 12.1 million rides per year and operates 40 bus and trolley routes with a fleet of 210 vehicles.

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