SMART Talk Newsletter

Posted on: October 2, 2017

SMART Awarded $1.45 Million Grant for New Electric-Powered Buses

ProteraElectricBus-small-image

The City of Wilsonville’s South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART) agency has been awarded a competitive grant in the amount of $1.45 million by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the purchase of new electric-powered buses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Low or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus Program Projects,” SMART plans to purchase two 35-foot battery-electric buses and install charging infrastructure. The City is providing a local $400,000 match—15% match for vehicles and 10% for charging stations—for a total project amount of $1.85 million.

SMART was one of only 51 public-transit agencies nationwide—and the only transit agency in Oregon—to successfully compete on a national basis for the grant award under the $55 million FY2017-18 Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, Section 5339(c). Demand for FY2017-18 funding was competitive, with the FTA receiving nearly 200 project applications. SMART partnered with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), and bus manufacturer Proterra on the successful grant application.

The grant award was announced on Sept. 15 by members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation. As a city spanning two seats in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and Congressman Kurt Schrader released a joint-statement that said, “SMART serves a crucial role providing public-transit services in the increasingly congested South Metro I-5 Corridor between the North Willamette Valley and the greater Portland metro region of Oregon’s First and Fifth Congressional Districts. As Wilsonville frequently does, the city has ponied up a considerable share of their own funding to make this project a reality and never shies from working alongside their surrounding communities from Salem and Canby to Tualatin and Beaverton to create more efficient, connected transit systems. Their work on this program is a testament to what can be accomplished when our communities at the local, state and federal level work in unity. Electric vehicles are part of the solution as we work to address climate change and lower polluting emissions. Congratulations to Wilsonville SMART on leading the way toward a greener future and providing residents with clean public transportation options”

Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley also released a joint statement, saying, “This is an example of the kinds of federal investments in local communities that helps to improve mobility, livability and our environment. Investments in our public-transit infrastructure are smart, long-term strategies that enhance our state’s economy by providing a transportation alternative for Oregonians’ access to jobs, school, medical appointments and other crucial services.”

Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp said that, “The City Council is pleased that our staff members work diligently to compete successfully for federal funds that positively extend the impact of local taxes. Utilizing clean-fuel or no-emission buses can improve the quality of life for Wilsonville residents and commuting workers while advancing more efficient transit services.”

SMART Director Dwight Brashear said, “The Wilsonville City Council has made a firm commitment to transitioning the SMART bus fleet to a more sustainable, green future focused on alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric, CNG and diesel-electric hybrids. Together with Tri-Met, SMART serves as an integral component of the Portland metro regional ‘Climate Smart Strategy’ that calls for increased investments in transit improvements to reduce vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Under the surface-transportation funding-authorization bill of 2015, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), $55 million per year is available for the Low-No Program until fiscal year 2020. The Low or No Emission Competitive program provides funding to state and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities.

Local backing for the City’s grant application was strong, and featured 15 letters of support from business and government leaders, including representatives of Rockwell Collins, Precision Countertops, Convergys, Oregon Tech (OIT), and elected officials Clackamas County Commissioner Chair Jim Bernard, Metro Council President Tom Hughes, Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher, and Oregon Representatives Bill Kennemer and Rich Vial, as well as U.S. Representatives Bonamici and Schrader and Senators Wyden and Merkley.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

 About the FTA Bus and Bus Related Equipment and Facilities and Low-No Programs: The Bus & Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program (49 U.S.C. 5339) makes federal resources available to states and direct recipients to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities including technological changes or innovations to modify low or no emission vehicles or facilities. Funding is provided through formula allocations and competitive grants. A sub-program, the Low- or No-Emission Vehicle Program, provides competitive grants for bus and bus facility projects that support low and zero-emission vehicles.

Eligible recipients include designated recipients that operate fixed-route bus service or that allocate funding to fixed-route bus operators; state or local governmental entities; and federally recognized Indian tribes that operate fixed route bus service that are eligible to receive direct grants under 5307 and 5311. Subrecipients include eligible recipients that receive grant funding under the formula or discretionary programs may allocate amounts from the grant to subrecipients that are public agencies or private nonprofit organizations engaged in public transportation.

Capital projects to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses, vans, and related equipment, and to construct bus-related facilities, including technological changes or innovations to modify low or no emission vehicles or facilities.

About SMART: Operated by the City of Wilsonville and funded primarily by the business community through a local payroll tax, SMART carries over 350,000 passenger trips per year and maintains a fully wheelchair-accessible fleet of 30 vehicles that include three 40‐foot buses with an average age of eight years; eight 35‐foot buses with an average age of 18 years; thirteen 26‐foot buses with an average age of seven years; and four vans with an average age of six years. SMART operates in conjunction with Tri-Met, the SMART/Wilsonville Transit Center and WES Commuter Train Station, and provides express bus service to Salem in partnership with Salem-Keizer Transit District (“Cherriots”) and to Canby in partnership with Canby Area Transit (CAT). 

About Proterra: Founded in 2004 in Colorado, Proterra is a leading U.S. bus manufacturer. Proterra builds zero-emission, battery-electric buses that help fleet operators abandon fossil fuels, improve environmental quality and reduce operating costs. Proterra vehicles have proven themselves over more than 3.3 million miles of service in communities across North America, operating at a lower overall cost than any 35- or 40-foot diesel, hybrid or CNG transit vehicle. For more information, see: www.proterra.com.

 The Proterra Catalyst® 35-foot zero-emission transit vehicles are highly cost-effective to operate. With the incredibly low and very stable fuel cost that electricity offers, and significantly lower year-over-year maintenance costs resulting from having 30 percent fewer parts, transit operators have the potential to achieve over $450,000 in operational savings per vehicle over 12 years. For more information, see: https://www.proterra.com/products/35-foot-catalyst/

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