This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 23, 2009

Transportation Department Supports Clean Energy at 43 Transit Agencies

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds on September 21 to 43 transit agencies that are pursuing cutting-edge environmental technologies. The winning projects in the competitive bidding are designed to help reduce global warming, lessen U.S. dependence on oil, and create green jobs. Most of the projects involve the purchase of hybrid electric buses and upgrading facilities with energy efficiency improvements and solar power systems. Some transit agencies are exploring other renewable and advanced energy technologies, including wind turbines for the transit agencies in Lafayette, Indiana, and Boston, Massachusetts; a solar thermal system for Rock Island, Illinois; a geothermal heat pump system for the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Illinois; and stationary fuel cells for the statewide bus system in Connecticut. In addition, transit agencies in Florida and Oregon plan to perform efficiency upgrades on their current buses, replacing some mechanical and hydraulic systems with electrically powered devices.

Among the more innovative projects is the Chicago Transit Authority's use of electrified stalls to heat and cool buses while they are parked outdoors, thereby avoiding excessive idling. And taking a page from hybrid vehicles, Los Angeles, California, will employ a station-mounted flywheel to capture the energy of stopping subway trains and then to help send them on their way again, much like a hybrid's regenerative braking system. Pursing advanced technologies for buses, the transit authority in Flint, Michigan, will replace two diesel buses with new plug-in hybrid electric buses from Fisher Coachworks, achieving triple the equivalent fuel economy while in all-electric mode. Going even further, the transit agency for Chelan and Wenatchee in Washington State will try out five all-electric buses powered with lithium-ion "titanate" batteries, along with two "quick charge" charging stations at the agency's transportation center.

The 43 winning proposals were submitted by transit agencies from across the country as part of a nationwide competition for the funds, which were offered under the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) grant program as part of the Recovery Act. Selection criteria included a project's ability to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and also to provide a return on the investment. Other criteria included readiness to implement, applicant capacity, degree of innovation, and national applicability. The winning transit agencies are located in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. For a complete list, read the DOT press release.