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Rochester, Minn., to See $10M for Transit, Electric Buses

The federal money from the CARES Act will help the city of Rochester to pay for a pair of 60-foot, battery-electric buses, an electric vehicle charging station and other transit-related necessities.

by Post-Bulletin / June 8, 2020
Shutterstock/Ruslan Sitarchuk

(TNS) — More than $10 million is headed to Rochester to support transit services.

A pair of Federal Transit Administration grants seeks to support transit amid the COVID-19 public health emergency while also boosting the local effort to establish an electric bus fleet.

The city will get $7.2 million as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to continue transit operations and purchase replacement buses in the wake of the pandemic, the federal agency said this week.

In addition, Rochester will receive nearly $3.2 million to purchase new electric buses.

The money will help pay for a pair of 60-foot, battery-electric buses, which will cost $1.25 million apiece, as well as an electric vehicle charging station at a cost of $1.1 million. The entire project is expected to come with a $3.65 million price tag and requires a local match of $492,367.

In April, Rochester City Administrator Steve Rymer said the city was anticipating a $1.8 million to $3.9 million loss in revenue related to public transit, due to reduced ridership and the city’s fare-free policy, which is aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

In May, Rymer said the city expected to receive the $7.2 million in federal funding, with $2 million anticipated to cover current operating expenses and $5.2 million used for purchasing new buses, building infrastructure and implementing technology that will be needed to maintain safe service in the pandemic’s aftermath.

“We can use it for multiple years,” he said that the dedicated transit funding for upcoming years will help create flexibility elsewhere in the budget.

“Putting battery-electric transit vehicles in service furthers the city’s commitment to sustainability by preserving resources today in a way that they can be enjoyed by future generations,” Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said of the electric bus funding.

Rochester Public Transit’s 2017-2022 Transit Development Plan calls for 60-foot articulated buses to support expected increased use of the city’s park-and-ride facilities.

“RPT’s expansion represents an opportunity to meet the needs of the growing community and to invest in cleaner, more efficient technology,” said Ia Xiong, the city’s physical development manager. 

©2020 the Post-Bulletin, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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