Capital Metro secures federal grant, Volkswagen settlement funding for cleaner buses

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Capital Metro is one of several entities in the state receiving funding from the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement as a result of litigation over the automobile maker’s emissions control test devices.

The Central Texas transit agency announced Aug. 5 it will receive $3.5 million from the trust, the highest amount in Central Texas, according to a news release. About 590,000 light-duty diesel vehicles in Texas were affected by VW devices that were designed to defeat emissions control tests, according to the release. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced 11 entities, mostly school districts, received a total of $14.6 million.

Capital Metro stated in its news release it will use the funds to help replace its diesel fuel fleet with cleaner buses.

The VW trust funding comes just over a week after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced July 26 Capital Metro would receive a $2.6 million Low or No Emission grant. Using the Federal Transit Administration grant, the agency will purchase six battery electric buses for a total cost of $6 million to $7 million, with Capital Metro footing the remainder of the cost.

Capital Metro spokesperson Mariette Hummel said Capital Metro will also purchase another four electric buses using funds budgeted for bus replacements.

In 2018, the transit agency tested several electric buses. These buses typically can get up to 26 miles per diesel gallon compared to 3-4 miles per gallon of a traditional diesel-powered bus, according to a representative from Proterra. The agency’s board approved a contract with Proterra in April for 10 buses.

On Earth Day, April 22, the agency announced it will begin construction this fall on a charging facility in North Austin off Burnet Road for its electric bus fleet. That facility will open in 2020 and could house over 200 buses.

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Amy Denney
Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.
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