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Hawaiʻi to receive $55M in federal money for zero-emission buses

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Oʻahu Transit Services
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FILE - All-electric TheBus in Honolulu.

State and county transportation agencies will receive more than $55 million in federal money to buy clean energy buses and improve bus facilities.

It’s part of $1.66 billion invested nationwide in bus fleets and facilities.

The funds come from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed last year.

“This new federal funding will make it easier for people to get to where they need to go while making our roads cleaner and quieter,” Sen. Brian Schatz, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing, said in a release. “Improving our public transit system with electric buses means that we can provide affordable transportation while reducing our carbon footprint.”

Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services will receive $20 million to buy battery electric buses.

“I’m very excited and grateful for this grant,” DTS Director Roger Morton said in a statement. “With these funds, the City will be expanding its ever-growing all-electric TheBus fleet, to bring a cleaner, quieter, and safer ride to residents and visitors of Honolulu”.

The city has 17 electric buses currently serving different routes across the island. These all-electric buses provide smoother and quieter rides for riders, all while supporting the city’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

Each EV bus costs roughly $1.1 million. The city is planning to use these grants, additional federal and local funds to purchase 36 to 38 more EV buses for the fleet. Honolulu expects to see these new buses in 2024.

The state Department of Transportation will receive the rest of the money on behalf of Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi and Maui counties.

A total of $35 million will go towards the following:

  • The County of Hawaiʻi will procure six fuel cell electric buses and support hydrogen charging infrastructure, as well as capital elements of the Hawaiʻi County Transit and Multi-Modal Transportation Master Plan which includes improvements to bus stops and shelters, transit hub design, and zero emissions infrastructure.
  • The County of Kauaʻi will procure four battery electric buses and expand its base yard to prepare the infrastructure needed to transition its fleet to electric buses by the year 2035 and provide the space required to expand and improve transit service quality.
  • The County of Maui will procure four battery electric buses, as well as three commuter and four microtransit-type buses, and prepare the infrastructure needed to transition its fleet to electric buses by the year 2035.

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