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FTA awards OCTA $2.5 million toward zero-emission paratransit buses

More zero-emission buses are headed to local streets thanks to a federal grant awarded to the Orange County Transportation Authority for battery-electric paratransit buses.

The Federal Transit Administration announced Tuesday that OCTA will receive $2.5 million in federal funding toward the purchase of 10 battery-electric buses that will replace 10 gasoline buses in the OC ACCESS program, which serves bus riders with physical or cognitive disabilities.

The money is part of nearly $1.7 billion in federal funding being awarded to transit agencies nationwide – $236 million throughout California – available through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law in late 2021. The competitive grants are awarded through the FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities, and Low- and No-Emission Vehicle programs.

“This funding will help further OCTA’s efforts to convert our public transit fleet to producing zero emissions, which will result in even cleaner air for Orange County while we continue to provide the same level of reliable, convenient service for everyone who needs accessible transportation,” said OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also the Mayor of Orange.

The federal funds will help replace 10 gasoline-powered buses in the OC ACCESS fleet. In addition to paying for the new 22-foot battery-electric buses for a pilot program, the funding will help pay for the associated infrastructure needed to charge the paratransit buses.

The overall project cost is approximately $5 million, with additional OCTA funding identified to cover the cost.

OCTA’s paratransit bus service, known as OC ACCESS, provides approximately 1.5 million boardings annually. Nationwide, the FTA is helping fund 150 projects in 46 states and putting at least 1,800 new buses on the road, most of them producing zero emissions.

“When a transit door opens, whether it is a bus, train, or ferry, it is a great equalizer for everyone in our nation,” FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said in a statement.

OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson says federal funding plays an essential role in fulfilling OCTA’s mission to leverage local funds to help keep Orange County moving safely and efficiently, while protecting the environment.

“We appreciate the ongoing partnership with the FTA as we work toward a balanced and sustainable transportation future,” Johnson said.

OCTA is already working toward a zero-emission future with its bus fleet by 2040.

In early 2020, OCTA introduced the first 10 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses into its regular fleet and built the largest hydrogen fueling station for transit in the nation at its Santa Ana bus base. Then, earlier this year, OCTA began testing the first two of 10 plug-in electric buses. The pilot programs are helping the agency determine which technology, or mix of technologies, will perform best on Orange County streets.

The effort aligns with California’s Innovative Clean Transit Rule, a first-of-its kind regulation in the U.S. that sets a goal for public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100 percent zero-emission bus fleets by 2040. The Innovative Clean Transit Rule is part of the state’s comprehensive program helping to achieve California’s air quality and climate goals.

For more information, visit www.octa.net

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.