The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) in San Diego says it has secured an $18,054,003 competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to purchase 45 new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses for East County operations.
According to the MTS, this was the second-largest grant awarded in the nation for the department’s Ladders of Opportunity initiative.
“This was a very competitive grant process, and we were able to secure nearly 20 percent of the entire grant funding available for the entire United States,” says Paul Jablonski, CEO of the MTS. “This is a big win for MTS and our riders. It keeps us on pace to retire the last of our diesel buses from our fleet,” adds Jablonski.
The $100 million Ladders of Opportunity competitive grants were given to applicants that directly enhanced access to work; offered transit access to educational and training opportunities; and offered access to basic services for veterans, seniors, youths and other disadvantaged populations.
The DOT received 446 proposals from 282 applicants requesting a total of $1.4 billion. Of those, only 24 agencies in 19 states received a portion of the $100 million available. The City of Detroit received the largest grant award, at $25.9 million, followed by the MTS, at $18 million, and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, at $9.4 million.
The MTS will use the grant funds to purchase 45 Gillig buses powered by CNG, replacing older models that have reached the end of their useful life due to age and mileage. The new buses will be manufactured in California and include onboard video surveillance inside and outside the vehicles, new wheelchair restraint systems, disk brakes, CNG tanks with 20-year life spans, and enhanced cooling systems.
As reported, the buses will operate out of the East County Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility.
The MTS has also invested $31 million to expand and modernize that facility to include a new 34,000-square-foot, high-bay maintenance building; a 10,275-square-foot mezzanine; and second-floor office areas. The facility now accommodates 120 buses serving East County. The prime contractor was Clark Construction, and funding was secured through state and federal grant programs.