US Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and US Congressman Joseph Morelle announced over $23 million from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Low and No Emission Vehicle Grant Program for the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA).
The lawmakers explained that following their direct advocacy to Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, RGRTA was selected for two of these highly competitive grants to establish a new facility for their paratransit service RTS Access and launch a first-of-its-kind Clean Hydrogen Fuel Cell pilot program.
Specifically, RGRTA will receive $16 million to create its new RTS Access facility and $7,043,331 for the clean hydrogen fuel cell bus demonstration program. The representatives explained that the current paratransit facility is decades old, woefully outdated and unable to be expanded as the region’s transit needs continue to grow.
These limitations have divided RTS Access’ workforce between the existing paratransit facility and RGRTA’s main office. This funding will create a brand new modern home for RTS Access’ over 100 employees and its over 50 bus fleet, upgrading its infrastructure so that scheduling, vehicle maintenance, storage, and assessments for paratransit needs can all be housed under one state of the art roof, allowing RGRTA to improve accessibility and better serve the people of the Greater Rochester area.
The first of its kind Clean Hydrogen Fuel Cell pilot program will allow Rochester to be among the first transit services to launch new hydrogen fuel cell buses and will help build the fueling infrastructure required to operate them. Hydrogen fuel cell buses produce zero emissions, have a longer range and shorter fueling time than battery-electric buses, and generally perform better in colder weather, which is critical during Rochester’s harsh winter months.
RGRTA is one of five transit systems in New York State working towards the goal of having a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2035, and this funding will accelerate them towards finally achieving that goal.
This bill includes over $1 billion for clean buses, garbage trucks, and other vehicles. Plus, $10 billion in investment tax credits to build clean technology manufacturing facilities and tens of billions in production tax credits to accelerate US manufacturing of clean hydrogen and other green energy, which will significantly boost local Finger Lakes companies like Plug Power which makes the same kind of hydrogen fuel cell stacks in Monroe County that power buses like those in this grant.
Senator Schumer said, “The Finger Lakes is already a global leader in Clean Hydrogen thanks to Plug Power, and now America will be able to see firsthand how New York is fighting climate change while also giving residents a safer, faster, and cleaner commute.”
Senator Gillibrand said, “These federal dollars will help RGRTA continue its transition to a zero-emission bus fleet, which will help ensure that the millions of people who use Rochester’s bus system have quick and reliable service while also dramatically reducing carbon emissions.”
Congressman Joe Morelle said, “The climate crisis is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation, and in order to combat its devastating effects, we need to make real investments in growing sustainable infrastructure.”
Bill Carpenter, RGRTA CEO, said, “These investments accelerate our ability to provide new mobility options and zero-emission technologies that will make it possible for RGRTA to improve access to important destinations, protect the environment, and continue being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.”