Flaws in Federal Clean Transit Programs

Two programs designed to help transit agencies shift to electric and zero-emission fleets contain rules that could slow the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

1 minute read

May 18, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

An analysis by Transportation for America finds that certain provisions of the federal Low or No Emission Vehicle (Low No) and Bus and Bus Facilities programs limit their effectiveness and “artificially constraining the supply of zero-emission funds, locking in unnecessary transit emissions for decades.”

Based on information obtained by T4A through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, T4A concludes that “the [Low No] program encourages transit agencies to buy diesel hybrid and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses instead of zero-emission buses running on electricity or hydrogen,” with 25 percent of the Low No program’s funding aimed at low-emission, not zero-emission, vehicles and projects. 

While “The Bus and Bus Facilities program does not place constraints on fuel types when considering awards,” T4A found that “zero-emission projects had a one in six chance of being awarded while consuming 83 percent of the program’s available funding.”

According to T4A, “Congress can do more to ensure that these programs are working to accomplish emission reduction goals” by increasing funding for both programs to meet the overall demand for buses and facilities; creating incentives for both programs to leverage other funding sources; and increasing transparency of the program by making basic application and award information available on FTA’s website and looking for ways to simplify the application process.”

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