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A lot more electric buses are coming to Western Washington roads

caption: Batteries being charged for two of King County Metro's electric buses.
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Batteries being charged for two of King County Metro's electric buses.
King County Metro

Western Washington is getting a surge of funds to pay for transitioning to cleaner mass transit systems, which means a lot more electric and hybrid buses will be hitting local roads over the next few years.

King County Metro announced that it has been selected to receive $33.5 million in federal funding to purchase a total of 30 electric buses. These vehicles will be assigned to routes in low-income areas.

“These funds play a vital role in our transition to a zero-emission future,” said Metro General Manager Michelle Allison. “The buses and the maintenance training they will help fund are both an environmental and a social justice shift. Our focus is placing these buses and the work to maintain them in communities that have borne the brunt of climate change for too long. Continued federal funding in our work paves the way for King County Metro to drive the transit industry and growth as we make our switch to a battery-electric future.”

Metro notes that the federal money is in the top 10 most expensive grants in the nation (130 grants were provided to agencies in 46 states), and it will help it transition to an entirely emissions-free bus fleet by 2035.

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The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is putting $1.7 billion toward mass transit upgrades.

The Federal Transit Administration further notes that the funding will contribute to the purchase of "1,700 American-built buses that will be manufactured with American parts and labor." Almost half of the news buses will be zero-emissions models.

"Every day, over 60,000 buses in communities of all sizes take millions of Americans to work, school, and everywhere else they need to go," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. "Today’s announcement means more clean buses, less pollution, more jobs in manufacturing and maintenance, and better commutes for families across the country."

Three other Western Washington agencies are slated to receive a total of $22.1 million in federal grant funds with the goal of building up sustainable transit infrastructure.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering cleaner and greener bus service to Northwest Washington,” said Rep. Rick Larsen who represents the region where the three transit agencies are located, and is also on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Thanks to this historic funding, the state of Washington and local transit agencies in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties will be able to keep people moving while reducing maintenance costs, lowering energy consumption and pulling carbon pollution out of public transportation.”

RELATED: Washington to phase out new gasoline-powered cars by 2035

Skagit Transit is getting $5 million to build a new bus facility for maintenance and administration.

Whatcom Transportation Authority is getting more than $9.6 million for 11 diesel-electric hybrid buses that will replace three diesel buses and eight hybrid buses.

Island Transit is getting just over $7.5 million for a new South Whidbey Island Transit Center. These funds are funneled through the Washington State Department of Transportation.

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