Grant funds three new hybrid electric Whatcom transit buses

Whatcom Transportaion Authority will be able to replace three more of its 18-year-old diesel buses with hybrid electric models thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, according to a WTA announcement.

The grant is funded through the federal agency’s 2012 “State of Good Repair” bus initiative, which will dole out up to $787 million to transit projects nationwide. WTA was awarded $2.8 million to replace five of its diesel buses in 2011. The transit authority expects its sub-fleet of hybrids to start service in 2013.

Washington state federal lawmakers applauded the grant.

“I am so pleased the Department of Transportation has announced that Washington state transportation projects will be receiving this critical support,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, in a statement. “This is an important investment in our transportation system, and it will make a difference for commuters in Whatcom County.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen said public-transportation investments are critical for job creation and economic growth.

“We can’t have a big league economy with little league infrastructure,” Larsen said, in a statement. “These new hybrid-electric buses will cut down on fuel costs and emissions, all while giving Whatcom residents a better ride.”

WTA officials expect the eight hybrid buses will reduce the transit authority’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 30 percent, including an estimated drop in nitrous oxide emissions by more than 64,000 pounds annually. They buses should also reduce fuel and maintenance costs by about $100,000 each year.

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