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City of Gainesville awarded $26.4M federal transit grant for a more energy efficient RTS

Press release from the City of Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The City of Gainesville Department of Transportation has been awarded $26.4 million in grant funding, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced this week. The award is the City’s largest single federal grant for its Regional Transit System (RTS).

Much of the award, $21.9 million, will enable the City to purchase full-sized hybrid electric buses. The remaining funding, just shy of $4.5 million, will be used to build the City’s first solar-generating facility at the RTS administration complex. The federal award is specifically earmarked for modernizing public transportation systems and cannot be reallocated toward operating or administrative costs.

“Thanks to this historic investment in sustainable public transportation for our community by the Biden Administration, we’ll have one of the newest – and most fuel-efficient – transit fleets in the entire state,” said Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward. “This funding will truly help us better serve our neighbors who rely on RTS for safe, efficient, and reliable transportation every single day.”

In February, Mayor Ward traveled to Washington, D.C., strengthening relationships with FTA officials and advocating for continued federal support.

“This significant investment in clean energy technologies underscores our commitment to building a more sustainable future for our community,” said Gainesville City Manager Cynthia W. Curry. “Most importantly, the upgrades will provide eco-friendly transportation for all neighbors, aligning with our vision of sustainability and mobility for all.”

New buses may begin to arrive in 2026, with the RTS team prioritizing the replacement of existing diesel buses based on mileage and age. The new buses will add to the five hybrid-diesel buses and four battery-electric buses currently part of the RTS fleet.

Meanwhile, once the planning and permitting processes for the on-site solar power facility are complete, construction will begin at the RTS complex, likely within a few years. The new facility will harness clean, renewable power, offsetting a significant portion of the complex’s annual electricity consumption. In addition, solar panel power generation will help charge the electric bus fleet.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly $5 billion has been awarded in the past 3 years to modernize public transportation in America, including the approximately $1.5 billion in funding announced this week.

“Today, another 117 communities across 47 states are receiving the good news that their transit buses are being modernized and their commutes improved through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is helping agencies replace old buses running on dirtier, expensive fuels by delivering modern and zero-emission buses, manufactured by American workers, that will connect more people to where they need to go,” he said.

Building a sustainable community and mobility for all neighbors are key principles of the City’s strategic plan.

  • Somebody better make sure Ward & Co don’t divert the funds to their other pet projects.
    The City’s already mismanaged enough funds as it is. All we need is to have to owe some other organization for some stupid contractual agreement that never should have been made.

  • “zero-emission buses” brought to you by child labor in the Congo, Uyghur slaves in China, carbon billowing out of Deerhaven’s stack and non-recyclable components that will need to be stored (along with broken windmills and spent solar panels) at least until the fourth millenium CE.

    • Yes, exactly. What is the initial environmental and human cost of building these buses vs. cleaner diesel? When the government picks which technologies win, we all lose, especially the poorest of people.

    • I wonder how much less fuel the hybrid-diesels consume compared to the diesel only busses? Most large hybrids only save 5-10% fuel consumptions (although some smaller hybrids are much more efficient). Of course the city refuses to provide any sort of meaningful data…all they see is “free” money for political pet projects

  • Oh wow more “free” money. The federal government has more debt than will ever be able to be paid off, ever. Neither party in dc has the slightest interest in addressing it. Bretton Woods was the match that lit this fuse. Hope I’m gone when the bad times come.

  • We are $34 trillion in debt as a country. Where is $26 million coming from? The US is fked!

  • Do any of the bus riders pay? 1% maybe. Will UF continue to pay 50% for overall costs?

  • Is it just me that feels bad for people standing in the rain or heat waiting for a bus. Seems like the only shelters available are in the student areas. Do we need public transportation yes. But do we need big buses. When was the last time anyone saw a full bus?
    What is needed buses that run on time and schedule and more often especially during certain parts of day. Lanes for buses to pull over to load and off load passengers. Cars are polluting by sitting and running behind them. What is life span of the batteries used to run the buses? What is cost to replace battery? Will mechanics have to be trained to maintain electric buses? Harvey, did you do your homework?

    • You are confusing the term hybrid with ‘plug in hybrid’. The plug in has a traction battery, smaller than a pure EV. Both have a higher than average fire risk from the lithium batteries and those fires are much more dangerous and damaging.

  • Hopefully they won’t catch fire like EV buses. Hybrids are the best of both worlds otherwise. The oligarchs should have only pushed hybrid personal vehicles , instead of wasting billions on EV pipe dreams.

  • Federal money because this is what our local government – both City and County Commissioners asked for. It could have been used for roads but NOOOO busses are the answer, even if empty. Ugh – Fix the ROADS!

  • Hopefully the RTS isn’t planning on getting a sweetheart feed-in tariff contract from GRU for their excess power.

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