The City of Tucson‘s Sun Tran transit system will receive $21,490,560 to buy new compressed natural gas buses to replace older diesel buses. The project will support Sun Tran’s transition to all low- or no-emission vehicles and improve air quality in the Tucson metro region.

NGVAmerica announced over $233.76 million was been awarded by the Biden administration to compressed natural gas (CNG) bus transit projects across the country. Another $44.37 million went to transit agencies where at least a portion will be spent on CNG buses and infrastructure.

The funding is part of a larger announcement made this week by the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- and No-Emission Grant Award program for Fiscal Year 2023.

Funding natural gas transit maximizes the opportunity to deploy more transit buses thereby increasing ridership opportunities and accelerating the retirement of older more polluting buses. Natural gas buses outperform battery electric counterparts on virtually every major assessment mark:

  • Natural gas buses are less costly to purchase, maintain, and operate;
  • Natural gas refueling infrastructure is more affordable, efficient, and convenient for transit operators;
  • Natural gas buses are more reliable and require fewer days out of service in need of repair, with no compromise on duty or performance in any terrain or weather; and
  • Natural gas buses offer the most cost-effective emission reduction investment; operators can affordably achieve carbon-negative transit now by refueling with renewable natural gas (RNG).

The Low-No Program in recent years has proved to be an important factor in assisting transit agencies in upgrading their bus fleets to deploy cleaner, less polluting buses. With the Biden Administration’s added prioritization of addressing climate change and associated environmental justice concerns, the rapid and widespread deployment of affordable and impactful buses must include every qualifying technology commercially available today.

Prior to 2021, FTA did not fully consider low-emission natural gas transit bus applications in the competitive Low-No Grant Program. Through its advocacy work, NGVAmerica secured language in two fiscal year conference agreements that “directs the FTA to implement 49 U.S.C. 5339(c) in a manner that encourages a variety of different fuel types and consider procurements that reduce an agency’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.”2

As a result, FTA began awarding funding to municipalities and transit agencies interested in growing their natural gas transit programs and replacing older CNG buses that have reached the end of their useful life.

Other awards include Dallas Area Rapid Transit (TX) $103 million; Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (TX) $40.4 million; the Utah Transit Authority over $17 million; and Loudon County, VA $13.88 million. The funding is for new CNG buses, fueling infrastructure, and associated maintenance facility improvements.

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