Inbound stop on Idaho and 5th is closed, no temp stop placed due to construction in the area.
Federal grants will help VRT build a cleaner multimodal system
VRT was recently awarded two major competitive federal grants totaling nearly $26 million. These funds will help fund $30.5 million worth of projects to make improvements to the Treasure Valley’s transit system.
Competitively awarded grants
In addition to providing recurring funding to transit agencies, the federal government offers a selection of competitive grant programs to fund specific projects. VRT staff submitted successful applications to both grant programs, which will allow VRT to enhance the system beyond what would be capable of doing within its regular budget. Receiving two competitive federal grants within one week is a tremendous accomplishment!
Toward a more sustainable system
Many of the projects being funded by these grants will help VRT shift its system toward a cleaner, quieter, more sustainable system. They will also help advance the region’s plan to transform State Street into a multimodal corridor with improved transit infrastructure.
VRT’s electric buses use locally-generated energy with reduced emissions. The batteries are fueled by Idaho Power, which generates more than 60 percent renewable electricity from hydroelectric plants, wind, and solar sources, and plans to shift to 100 percent clean energy sources by 2045. With nearly zero tailpipe emissions, electric buses charged on the electric grid have produced up to 87 percent less per-mile lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions when compared to their diesel counterparts1.
VRT introduced electric buses in 2021 and currently has 12 electric buses in its fleet. The current charge duration and charger location at VRT’s Orchard Maintenance Facility limits the ability to keep an electric bus in service all day. However, with these grants, VRT will be able to purchase more electric buses, install additional chargers at the Orchard facility, and construct new charging depots along bus routes and at Main Street Station (MSS). Located in downtown Boise, MSS currently connects nine bus routes with 21 buses averaging over 3000 miles per weekday.
A collaborative effort
These grants represent high levels of coordination with partners across the region. The shift toward an electric fleet and increased use of alternative transportation options on key transit corridors supports the City of Boise’s goal of carbon neutrality. The purchase of additional transit vehicles and building out the State Street corridor has been identified as high priorities in the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) long-range transportation plan, Communities in Motion 2040 2.0.
In addition to financial support from the City of Boise for both grants, VRT received local matching funds for State Street improvements from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), Ada County Highway District (ACHD), and the Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC).
Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant
- Date of award: August 11, 2022
- Amount: $8.5 million
- Local Match: $2.1 million
- Scale: One of 166 transit projects nationwide receiving a grant award
The RAISE grant will help to advance the region’s vision of an accessible, multimodal corridor on State Street, bringing community closer to home, increasing transportation options to benefit everyone, and reflecting State Street’s diversity. Transit, development, roadway, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements will create community gateways that provide the freedom to move.
VRT will use the RAISE grant for improvements to the State Street corridor and fund the construction of transit, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities along a six- and- one-half- mile section of State Street/State Highway 44, between downtown Boise to Bogart Lane. The project will include upgraded and accessible bus stations, on-route electric bus charging, real-time bus arrival displays, ticketing machines, improved lighting, a multi-use path, improved wheelchair access and infrastructure, and additional street crossings for bicycles and pedestrians.
Low or No (Low-No) Emission Vehicle grant
- Date of award: August 16, 2022
- Amount: $17.4 million
- Local Match: $2.6 million
- Scale: One of 150 transit projects nationwide receiving a grant award
The Low-No grant will fund the purchase of eight electric buses and four electric depot chargers, as well as workforce training and development. The local matching funds includes VRT funding, contributions from the City of Boise, and possible compressed natural gas fuel tax rebates. The Low or No Emission Vehicle program is among the FTA’s first competitive grant selections under the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
1 According to a 2019 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2019/04/Electric-Utility-Investment-Truck-Bus-Charging.pdf)