FTA Offers $2.75M in Funding for Zero-Emission Transportation Tech


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the availability of $2.75 million in funding for its Zero Emission Research Opportunity (ZERO).

According to the FTA, the purpose of the program is to facilitate the advancement, production and deployment of zero-emission public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure.

The FTA intends to select, and enter into cooperative agreements with, multiple nonprofit consortia to build on past research innovation and development efforts to further the deployment of zero-emission vehicles and associated advanced technology. Eligibility for future ZERO funding opportunities in fiscal years 2017-2020 will be limited to those nonprofit consortia selected under this fiscal year 2017 notice.

Potential research partners such as transit agencies, other nonprofits, vendors, suppliers and systems integrators may work with multiple consortia. The federal cost share of a project carried out under ZERO shall not exceed 80%.

According to the Federal Register, “The purpose of ZERO is to work with U.S. industry to remove obstacles to the wider adoption of zero-emission technology in public transportation. Examples include improving charging standards for battery-electric transit vehicles, improved passenger compartment heating systems or expanding hydrogen infrastructure.”

For this program, “zero-emission technology” refers to any technology that “provides a pathway to the immediate or eventual adoption of transit vehicles that produce no harmful emissions in any, and all, operating modes.” Battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology are typical examples. The notice adds that not all pathways to zero-emission vehicles have to be zero emission, but they have to be shown to be on an evolutionary pathway to zero emission. For example, hybrid technology is considered zero-emission technology for this program if it can be shown to advance the pathway to improved vehicle electrification.

The projects under ZERO may address aspects of the following subject areas:

  • Technology research and development – Improving the efficiency; reducing costs; and improving the performance of vehicles, vehicle systems and subsystems.
  • Transit fleet operations – Improving the efficiency, reducing costs and improving the performance of vehicle fleets, including maintenance and operations practices.
  • Energy infrastructure – Addressing challenges of supporting zero-emission technology, including hydrogen fueling, electric charging and relationships with suppliers and electric utilities.
  • Standards and policy – Research to support standards development and testing protocols and to identify policies and policy changes to reduce costs and risks of adopting zero-emission vehicle technology.
  • Other – The FTA is open to considering other research subjects or combinations of subjects to advance zero-emission technology.

As reported, ZERO represents the latest partnership with the public transportation industry to solve challenges, increase efficiency, and reduce the costs and risks of deploying zero-emission vehicles in transit service. ZERO will continue to support the industry as it examines the potential of larger zero-emission fleets.

Since 2008, the FTA has provided more than $150 million to support the research, development and deployment of cleaner more efficient public transit vehicles. The ongoing Low and No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program has proven the interest of transit agencies to procure and operate highly innovative and efficient models, including battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 21, 2017.

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