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From all of us at the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), we commend the House and Senate Appropriations Committee for recognizing the importance of programs supportive of the zero-emission transit industry. The funding levels included in the Omnibus Appropriations language for the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program and the Low or No Emission Component Assessment Program are vital to the transit industry’s efforts to transition to zero-emission vehicles.

CTE, a non-profit engineering and planning firm, has been actively engaged in helping to move US manufactured, zero-emission transportation technologies into the marketplace for the past 25 years.  Part of our focus is advocating on behalf of the zero-emission industry to help establish programs at the federal and state levels to provide support to our country’s transition to cleaner, more sustainable, domestically produced transportation fuels.  CTE is proud to announce our collective voices are being heard in Congress. The new Omnibus Appropriations language reflects two big wins for the zero-emission transit bus industry.

First, the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), funded at $55 million in FY16 and FY17 received an additional $29.45 million in FY18 to bring the total $84.45. This program has been vital to helping US transit agencies transition to clean, quiet zero-emission technologies. These technologies include both battery electric and fuel cell electric drive systems. This program is a highly competitive grant program that helps pay the difference between incumbent diesel and CNG technologies and zero-emission technologies.  This funding allows transit agencies to basically pay the same price for these cleaner technologies while simultaneously helping bus OEMs to dramatically reduce the costs of these buses by creating higher production volumes. Our organization has been instrumental in helping transit agencies convert to these technologies by providing technical assistance to support more than 50 zero-emission bus deployments across the country to date.

Second, FTA’s Low or No Emission Component Assessment Program (LoNo-CAP) received an additional $2 million to help the two new centers, one at Auburn University and one at The Ohio State University, begin zero-emission bus component testing.  CTE is part of the team at Auburn University and is working closely with Auburn to initiate the program.

Here are a few commonly asked questions related to this news update:

What does the Appropriations Committee do?
Found in both the House and the Senate, the Appropriations Committee handles drafting bills related to appropriating, banking, and currency duties for the United States government.  Consequently, it is one of the most powerful of the committees, and its members are seen as influential. They make the key decisions about the work of their committees—when their committees meet, which bills they will consider, and for how long. Thus, this committee recognizing the importance of funding zero emissions transit projects is a big step for the industry.

What is an Omnibus?
Defined by, an omnibus is a term frequently used in reference to a legislative bill comprised of two or more general subjects that is designed to compel the executive to approve provisions that he or she would otherwise reject but that he or she signs into law to prevent the defeat of the entire bill.

What is LoNo-CAP specifically?
From the FTA’s website directly, “LoNo-CAP will directly support the mission of FTA’s ongoing Low-No programs by providing unbiased assessments of LoNo components used in transit buses, publishing the assessments online, and summarizing them in an annual report to Congress. LoNo component assessments will document — at a minimum — the maintainability, reliability, performance, structural integrity, efficiency, and noise of the tested components.”