Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments Receives $1.5 Million in Federal Grant Funds for Battery-Electric Buses

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) has been awarded $1.5 million in funding as a part of the Federal Transportation Authority (FTA) Low-or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant program.

BCDCOG, one of 23 agencies nationwide to receive funds, will purchase an initial trio of zero-emission, battery-electric vehicles from Greenville, S.C. manufacturer Proterra, with whom it partnered on the grant application. The buses will be part of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) fleet. BCDCOG has managed the transit authority since 2015.

“This is yet another step forward for public transportation in the region,” said BCDCOG and CARTA executive director Ron Mitchum. “Our staff worked diligently to secure funding for these clean-fuel vehicles, which will be the first of many on tri-county streets and highways.”

The CARTA board of directors in July passed a resolution to transition its entire fleet of fixed-route buses, primarily 1996 models that serviced the Atlanta Olympics, to zero-emission battery-electrics over the next several years. Funding from another federal grant program, when combined with Low-No resources, could see the number of battery-electric vehicles increase to as many nine in the near-term. CARTA is in the midst of updating its Express buses and has recently replaced its entire Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) and Tel-A-Ride paratransit fleets.

A cornerstone of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act signed into law by Congress in December of 2015, the Low-No Grant program is centered on modernizing transit systems through the purchase of buses which are powered by hybrid or battery engines, according to a Proterra release.

More than $84 million in funding is being made available for 52 projects in 41 states via the Low-No program. About $36 million will be spent on Proterra buses nationally.

“We are extremely happy to see American-made, zero-emission vehicles making their way into our fleet,” said CARTA board of directors chairman Mike Seekings. “Reliable, eco-friendly buses are a core component of what we’re building in regard to public transit in the region.”

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