- The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has received nearly $41 million from California's Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) to modernize the transit system, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety.
- MTS will use the funding for a variety of bus and light rail improvements, with the largest portion going toward the purchase of 11 new electric buses. The grant also will be used for bus stop and light rail infrastructure upgrades.
- TIRCP funds transportation and infrastructure grants through the state's cap and trade program as well as through SB 1, the controversial gas tax measure.
San Diego is among the many cities in the process of or looking to upgrade a bus fleet to zero emissions electric vehicles. Washington, DC, St. Louis and Albuquerque, NM are among the municipalities expanding battery electric fleets.
Funding transit projects is a difficult endeavor, especially improvements to bus systems, which the public sometimes views as less modern. Transportation not considered cutting edge runs the risk of being overlooked while innovative transportation gets more attention and funding. However, bus system ridership throughout the country still far exceeds that of any other form of transit — in part because fares are cheaper and routes are more wide-reaching — and thus it would make sense to heavily fund this well-used mode of transportation.
Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $264 million specifically for bus system improvements projects in cities throughout the country. Quite a few of the 139 projects involve increasing the number of battery electric buses in transit fleets.
Besides adding battery electric vehicles, the funding MTS receives will boost safety through improvements like bus shelter lighting and curb pop-outs. Plus, a portion will be used to enhance pedestrian infrastructure, especially where several transit modes come together.