Connecticut, Illinois invest in green public busses

Connecticut and Illinois are making big investments into hybrid public buses thanks to a new round of federal awards. Connecticut was awarded $275 million and Illinois was awarded $5 million for hybrid bus projects. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation which is working to help states make public transit systems become more energy efficient.

Connecticut was awarded full funding for the New Britain-Hartford Busway project, which will break ground in the spring of 2012. The funds come from the federal New Starts program which will help the state create a dedicated bus rapid transit system that will connect New Britain and Hartford with stops at 11 stations along a 9.4 mile corridor. Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said the Busway is expected be up and running in 2014, providing some 16,000 passenger trips each weekday and cutting bus travel time between New Britain and Hartford in half.

Total costs for the Busway are $567 million, the state is covering $112 million of that cost and the remainder will come from the federal government. The project is expected to create 4,000 short-term construction jobs and one hundred permanent jobs.

Illinois hybrid bus award will go to the purchase of up to 10 hybrid buses. The buses are anticipated to be delivered in 2013 to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District, the City of Galesburg, the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District and the River Valley Mass Transit District. The grant is from the Federal Transit Administration’s Clean Fuels Grant Program, a competitive program that encourages the use of clean fuel and innovative propulsion systems in buses.

In addition to the $5 million grant, a smaller grant was awarded to help returning veterans navigate public transit options. IDOT was awarded a $362,000 federal grant to develop a Web site to connect transportation providers with active military and veterans statewide. The new site will be the state’s first online resource center to help active military, veterans and their families address their transportation needs by offering information on transit schedules, dial-a-ride services and ride-sharing programs in their areas.