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Santa Maria Regional Transit Awarded $6.6 Million to Buy Electric Buses

Original article by Noozhawk

Santa Maria Regional Transit (SMRT) has been awarded $6.6 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Low–No grant for the purchase of six electric buses. This is part of $1.66 billion in grants awarded nationwide by the FTA.

“We’re truly grateful to have been awarded this highly competitive funding," said Transit Service Manager Gamaliel Anguiano. "It will go a long way in supporting our ongoing approach to modernizing public transit and further improving the quality of life for Santa Maria residents.

"With these funds, SMRT will complete the final phase of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and be carbon-free by 2024.” SMRT has begun its transition to a zero-emissions bus fleet with plans to be 100 percent electric by 2024, well ahead of state mandates.

With the adoption of the city’s 2022-24 budget, the Transit Division is authorized to spend about $22 million in federal and state funding over the next two fiscal years to support the purchase of as many as 15 electric buses, in addition to the two electric buses already ordered.

Federal Low-No funding has the distinction of provisioning for partnerships between transit providers and bus manufacturers. SMRT has partnered with Gillig. Inc. in its Low-No grant application for the purchase of six electric buses to add to its impending fleet of Proterra and New Flyer electric buses.

All buses will come with the new SMRT branding livery, additional passenger amenities, as well as the latest in air quality management equipment. There is also a virtual bus driver training simulator included in the grant as part of the SMRT’s workforce development program.

Transitioning to electric buses is anticipated to save the transit program’s operating budget about $300,000 annually for fuel and maintenance costs.

Some of the costs for electric vehicle charging stations will be reimbursed under PG&E’s E-Fleet Ready Program. The city also received more than $200,000 from the state’s Low Carbon Transportation Operations Program, for the transition.

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