Thanks to a $3.6 million federal grant, Salem Area Mass Transit District (SAMTD) will soon be adding the first battery-electric buses to its vehicle fleet. Funds will come from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) “LowNo” program, a highly competitive pot of funding that supports the acquisition of buses and supporting infrastructure that produce low-to-no emissions.
“By replacing our oldest vehicles with our first battery-electric buses, this grant is a monumental step toward enhanced service and modernization of our vehicle fleet,” said Ian Davidson, President of the SAMTD Board of Directors. “With these funds, we will be able to create an ‘Electric Bus Corridor’ along our longest route to bolster service reliability and improve access to many of our most frequent destinations, while also reducing our carbon footprint.”
The award is a significant achievement for SAMTD’s goal of replacing aging buses while modernizing its fleet with the latest, most environment-friendly technology. The addition of electric buses and supporting infrastructure will attain emission reductions in the Salem-Keizer area and position SAMTD to pursue further electrification of its fleet.
With acquisition of electric buses as a high priority for SAMTD, CFM Advocates crafted a targeted approach to compete for grant dollars from the LowNo program. After helping shape, draft and submit a winning grant proposal, CFM undertook a robust advocacy campaign, gathering strong support from the Oregon congressional delegation.
“I am very pleased that Salem Keizer Transit was chosen by the Department of Transportation to receive these much-needed funds,” said Congressman Kurt Schrader, who represents the agency’s service area. “We convinced DOT that funding to replace five of the agency’s oldest buses in use for more than 15 years with new battery-powered electric buses will dramatically reduce emissions, lower operating costs and be far more reliable for Salem area passengers. Transit investments should be a top national priority and I am proud to have worked to secure this much-needed funding.”
“Now is the time to make the investments our communities need to build a foundation for the healthy, economically stable future families across Oregon deserve,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “I’m pleased that this funding will help the Salem Area Mass Transit District reduce pollution as it continues to deliver vital services to their community – services that have supported essential commutes and helped Oregonians reach grocery stores and pharmacies during this pandemic.”
The requested vehicles will be employed on Route 11 Lancaster Drive, SAMTD’s longest route (by revenue miles), which runs between Keizer and South Salem. This service corridor will be rebranded as the “Electric Bus Corridor,” providing access to major employment, education and health care destinations including Mill Creek Business Park and Chemeketa Community College.
This award is the latest success from CFM’s 10-year partnership with SAMTD. Other recent awards include $1,054,240 for an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) improvements project, $2,475,000 for six CNG replacement buses and $2.8 million for construction of Keizer Transit Station.
CFM is one of the leading federal transit lobbying firms, successfully advocating for more than $1.5 billion in federal investments for bus programs since 2015. CFM represents several transit agencies in Oregon and Washington, as well as The Bus Coalition, an advocacy organization that supports funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facility program.