On April 24th, The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $400 million dollars in funding to incentivize and accelerate the replacement of existing school buses with clean school buses, including propane buses! This is the first grant funding opportunity through the multi-year funding program and follows the 2022 CSB Rebate Program, which was the first round of funding. Under the 2023 Grant Program, the EPA anticipates awarding approximately $400 million in competitive grant funding to eligible applicants for the purchase of zero-emission (ZE) school buses, clean school buses, and ZE charging infrastructure.
Propane buses are eligible for up to $35,000 per bus. While the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) continues to fight for increased funding, we are glad to see a small but incremental advancement towards parity with electric buses: between 2022 and 2023, propane bus funding rose an average of 19% across categories, electric rose an average of 4.25%, and CNG stayed flat with no increases.
This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) includes two sub-programs, one for school district and Tribal applicants (School District Sub-program) and one for third-party applicants (Third-Party Sub-program). EPA is providing two separate competitions under this single NOFO to address the unique needs and concerns of diverse recipients and encourage participation in the CSB grants program.
EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, rural areas, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and public school districts receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas. In addition, EPA is committed to ensuring the CSB Program delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced 130 awards totaling nearly $1.7 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for transit projects. This funding invests in more than 1,700 American-built buses that will be manufactured with American parts and labor, including propane autogas bus models.
In addition to investing in the future of transit, the awards also invest in America’s workers. Twenty-two of the funded projects will operate with project labor agreements to ensure their efficient and timely completion, and 34 projects have committed to the gold standard model of registered apprenticeship, with supportive services such as childcare for employees.
This investment is the second bus grant package funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which has now invested more than $3.3 billion in American transit buses and the infrastructure that supports them. Over the next three years, record funding for American transit investment secured will provide almost $5 billion more.
“Today, we are creating new opportunities to dramatically improve the lives of millions of Americans who ride on buses every day,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these grants will help deliver a cleaner and more modern mode of transportation, designed to reach everyone, and to work for everyone, particularly in places that haven’t received enough resources in the past.”
The projects are supported by FTA’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities and Low- and No-Emission (Low-No) Vehicle programs. The Buses and Bus Facilities program provides federal funding for transit agencies to buy and rehabilitate buses and vans and build and modernize bus facilities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides nearly $2 billion through FY 2026 for the program. For FY 2023, approximately $473 million for grants was available under this program.
FTA’s Low-No program makes funding available to help transit agencies buy or lease American-built low- or zero-emission vehicles, including buses and vans; make facility and station upgrades to accommodate low- or zero-emission vehicles; and purchase supporting equipment like chargers. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $5.5 billion through FY 2026 for the Low-No Program – more than six times greater than the previous five years of funding combined. For FY 2023, approximately $1.22 billion was available for grants under this program.
In response to the Notice of Funding Opportunity, FTA received 475 eligible project proposals totaling approximately $8.7 billion in requests.
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